The goal of this study was to demonstrate the role of isolation on the social behaviour of individuals and to characterize its adaptation as a function of time. The ethological method used was a quantitative description of the spatial positioning of a sub-group of 13 wintering members during the morning, midday and evening meals at Dumont d'Urville station. The observation protocol required the completion of first daily and then weekly (every Thursday) observation maps at different stages of the 13 month long polar mission, from the information seminar in France, the trips outward and return aboard the Astrolabe, the two summer campaigns at the beginning and at the end of the mission and the overwintering period. Results, mainly expressed as human concentration and spatial dispersion indexes, have successively shown organization, disorganization and reorganization periods of the small group without any significant cycling. Socialisation rules promoting the group building in the early period, conflict factors and relay steps (external perturbations breaking the isolation, transitions during group displacement from one stage to another) promoting the maintenance of the social cohesion, are outlined in the discussion.
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