Flocks: Collective animal motion

Large scale and striking patterns of collective motion is observed in a wide range of organisms from cellular swarms and ant-trails to flocks of birds circumnavigating the globe. We study these fascinating systems by building simple computational models, try to understand how they arise from local interactions among individuals and their environment  (eg., model of ant-trail and pheromone dynamics [1]), and why so many organisms have evolved these forms of motion that can potentially provide benefits to both individuals and groups as a whole [2-5].

Recently, our focus has been on the evolution of collective coordination motion; i.e., how the `forces’ of evolution that typically occur favor selfish individuals can result in swarming interactions that may benefit groups as a whole.  To address such questions we combine computational models of swarming dynamics with principles of evolutionary theory (in particular, game theory) [2,3,4] as well as simple and elegant experimental set-ups [5].

Related publications:

[6] Jaideep Joshi, Iain D Couzin, Simon A Levin, Vishwesha Guttal, 2017, Mobility can promote the evolution of cooperation via emergent self-assortment dynamics, PLoS Computational Biology. 13(9): e1005732, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005732 and [BioRxiv]

[5] Christos C Ioannou, Vishwesha Guttal, Iain D Couzin, 2012, Predatory fish select for coordinated collective motion in virtual preyScience. 337: 1212-1215 A video on YouTube.[PDF available from Iain Couzin’s publications page. Look for publication #69.]

Perspectives, Science
Telegraph, India
National Public Radio
The Economist
Ed Yong @ Discover blog.

[4] Vishwesha Guttal*, Pawel Romanczuk*, Stephen J Simpson, Gregory A Sword, Iain D Couzin, 2011,  Cannibalism as a driver of the evolution of phase polyphenism in locusts. Ecology Letters, Vol 15:1158-1166 [*co-first authors]. PDF (Free from journal website).

Max-Planck Institute Press Release (in German)

[3] Vishwesha Guttal, Iain D Couzin, 2011, Leadership, collective motion and the evolution of migratory strategies, Communicative and Integrative Biology4:294 – 298PDF.

[2] Vishwesha Guttal, Iain D. Couzin, 2010, Social interactions, information use and the evolution of collective migration, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. 107:16172-16177. PDF.   Also see: Movies 1 and 2.

From the Cover of PNAS
In This Issue of PNAS
Commentary by Simpson and Sword in PNAS
Commentary by Ramaswamy in J. Club for Cond Mat Phys           New York Times.Wired ScienceDNA

[1] Debashish Chowdhury, Vishwesha Guttal, Katsuhiro Nishinari and Andreas Schadschneider, 2002,  “A Cellular Automata model of flow in ant-trails: non-monotonic variation of speed with density”, Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and General: 35, L575-L577 (2002).  PDF.


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