Quantifying allo-grooming in wild chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) using tri-axial acceleration data and machine learning

Christensen, C., Bracken, A. M. , O'Riain, M. J., Fehlmann, G., Holton, M., Hopkins, P., King, A. J. and Fürtbauer, I. (2023) Quantifying allo-grooming in wild chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) using tri-axial acceleration data and machine learning. Royal Society Open Science, 10(4), 221103. (doi: 10.1098/rsos.221103) (PMID:37063984) (PMCID:PMC10090879)

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Abstract

Quantification of activity budgets is pivotal for understanding how animals respond to changes in their environment. Social grooming is a key activity that underpins various social processes with consequences for health and fitness. Traditional methods use direct (focal) observations to calculate grooming rates, providing systematic but sparse data. Accelerometers, in contrast, can quantify activity budgets continuously but have not been used to quantify social grooming. We test whether grooming can be accurately identified using machine learning (random forest model) trained on labelled acceleration data from wild chacma baboons (Papio ursinus). We successfully identified giving and receiving grooming with high precision (81% and 91%) and recall (87% and 79%). Giving grooming was associated with a distinct rhythmical signal along the surge axis. Receiving grooming had similar acceleration signals to resting, and thus was more difficult to assign. We applied our machine learning model to n = 680 collar data days from n = 12 baboons and found that grooming rates obtained from accelerometers were significantly and positively correlated with direct observation rates for giving but not receiving grooming. The ability to collect continuous grooming data in wild populations will allow researchers to re-examine and expand upon long-standing questions regarding the formation and function of grooming bonds.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:M.J.O. was supported by NRF incentive funding. A.M.B. and C.C. were supported by College of Science/Swansea University PhD scholarships.
Keywords:Activity budgets, tri-axial accelerometers, primates, random forest models, allo-grooming, machine learning.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bracken, Dr Anna
Creator Roles:
Anna M., A. M.Investigation, Writing – review and editing
Bracken, A. M.Data curation
Authors: Christensen, C., Bracken, A. M., O'Riain, M. J., Fehlmann, G., Holton, M., Hopkins, P., King, A. J., and Fürtbauer, I.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Royal Society Open Science
Publisher:The Royal Society
ISSN:2054-5703
ISSN (Online):2054-5703
Published Online:12 April 2023
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2023 The Authors
First Published:First published in Royal Society Open Science 10(4): 221103
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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