Using a network approach to managing large rhesus macaque social groups

For this quarter’s Hot Topics in Animal Welfare feature, we introduce the body of work on social network analysis conducted on rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) groups at the California National Primate Research Center in the lab of Dr. Brenda McCowan, Core Scientist in the Neuroscience & Behavior Unit and Professor at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in Davis, CA. This work, spanning over a decade and involving numerous researchers, including Dr. Brianne Beisner, currently the Colony Director for the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta, GA, has led to a better understanding of aggression, trauma, and group stability and subsequent practical guidance in the captive management of large breeding groups of rhesus macaques. For more information, watch a video presentation about this research narrated by Dr. McCowan and Dr. Beisner.  

This body of work includes nearly 20 publications. A list of published studies including those works cited in this talk can be found here

Brenda McCowan, PhD Professor, Population Health & ReproductionAnimal Behavior Laboratory for Welfare & ConservationSchool of Veterinary Medicine, UC Davis Leader & Core Scientist, Neuroscience & Behavior UnitCalifornia National Primate Research Center Contact Dr. McCowan at


Brianne Beisner, PhDColony Director, Field StationYerkes National Primate Research CenterEmory University Contact Dr. Beisner at