Committee Chair

Hayes, Loren

Committee Member

Kovach, Margaret; Klug, Hope


Dept. of Biological and Environmental Sciences


College of Arts and Sciences


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


A growing body of evidence showing that individuals of some species live in non-kin groups suggests kin selection is not required in all species for sociality to evolve. Here I investigate two populations of Octodon degus, a South American rodent which has been shown to form kin and non-kin groups. I quantified genetic relatedness within social groups in two populations as well as social network parameters (association, strength, and clustering coefficient) in order to determine if these aspects of sociality were driven by kinship. I analyzed social network parameters relative to ecological conditions at burrow systems used by individuals to determine if ecological characteristics could explain variation in sociality. In both populations, genetic relatedness among individuals within social groups was not significantly higher than randomly selected individuals from the background population, suggesting non-kin structure is common in degus. In both populations, I found significant relationships between habitat characteristics of burrow systems and social network characteristics of individuals.


I would first like to thank my advisor (Dr. Loren Hayes) and my other committee members, Dr. Margaret Kovach and Dr. Hope Klug, for their knowledge and guidance. Additionally, I would like to thank Dr. Luis Ebensperger, Dr. Rodrigo Vasquez, Dr. Elie Poulin, and the members of the Molecular Ecology Lab at Universidad de Chile for their assistance with my research while in Chile. Lastly, I thank my friends and family for their support and encouragement. This research was funded by the National Science Foundation, Fondecyt, the Animal Behavior Society, and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.


M. S.; A thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Science.




Octodontidae; Degus; Animal societies; Social behavior in animals


social networks, animal behavior, degu

Document Type

Masters theses


x, 69 leaves




Under copyright.