Turkish Journal of Veterinary & Animal Sciences




Water buffaloes exhibit various social structures during their activities on pasture, but the impact of abiotic factors (i.e. rainfall) on these structures remains unknown. While existing research has provided evidence concerning the effect of weather conditions on grazing animals’ behavior, they have not examined how animals differentiate their social organization within the herd during their activities on pasture under the rainfall. This study utilized social network analysis to construct, depict, and analyze the proximity networks among buffaloes in each activity they perform on pasture before, during, and after the rainfall. By applying various network indices, we have shown that water buffaloes display distinct patterns of social structure under rainfall, with different expressions of sociality during each activity on pasture. In particular, under the rain water buffaloes maintain strong social bonds during grazing and have effective communication and coordination mechanisms. Rainfall reduces herd cohesion during the activity of moving but strengthens it during standing. Rainfall does not affect rumination; however, it limits the sociality of the animals and their communication during this activity. Buffaloes display individualization tendencies during wallowing and form stable chain hierarchies. This new evidence sheds light on water buffaloes’ sociality during their activities on pasture under rainfall and may help breeders improve their management practices.


Network analysis, grazing activities, herd social behavior, abiotic factors, water buffalo

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