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Collective Animal Behavior

Collective Animal Behavior

David J. T. Sumpter
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    Collective Animal Behavior
    Book Description:

    Fish travel in schools, birds migrate in flocks, honeybees swarm, and ants build trails. How and why do these collective behaviors occur? Exploring how coordinated group patterns emerge from individual interactions,Collective Animal Behaviorreveals why animals produce group behaviors and examines their evolution across a range of species.

    Providing a synthesis of mathematical modeling, theoretical biology, and experimental work, David Sumpter investigates how animals move and arrive together, how they transfer information, how they make decisions and synchronize their activities, and how they build collective structures. Sumpter constructs a unified appreciation of how different group-living species coordinate their behaviors and why natural selection has produced these groups. For the first time, the book combines traditional approaches to behavioral ecology with ideas about self-organization and complex systems from physics and mathematics. Sumpter offers a guide for working with key models in this area along with case studies of their application, and he shows how ideas about animal behavior can be applied to understanding human social behavior.

    Containing a wealth of accessible examples as well as qualitative and quantitative features,Collective Animal Behaviorwill interest behavioral ecologists and all scientists studying complex systems.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3710-6
    Subjects: Biological Sciences, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Chapter 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-13)

    Some scientists invest an entire career in the study of organisms of a single species, others in understanding particular types of cells or in determining the role of a certain gene. The elements of each level of biological organization can take more than a lifetime to understand. How then can we put all this information together? Understand how genes interact to drive the cell, how cells interact to form organisms, and how organisms interact to form groups and societies? These questions are fundamental to the scientific endeavor: how do we use our understanding of one level of organization to inform...

  5. Chapter 2 Coming Together
    (pp. 14-43)

    Animal groups vary in size from two magpies sitting on a branch to plagues of millions of locusts crossing the desert. Not only do the sizes of groups vary between species, but they can change dramatically within species. In some cases, a change in group size depends on changes in the environment. For example, locust outbreaks are thought to originate where resources are patchily distributed, causing locusts to move towards these limited resources (Collett et al. 1998; Despland et al. 2004). In other cases, individuals in similar environments are found in very different-sized groups. Fishermen are used to such intrinsic...

  6. Chapter 3 Information Transfer
    (pp. 44-76)

    A key benefit of being near to others is access to information. Animals often live in environments where resources are distributed in patches that exist only temporarily. In such an environment, a single individual has a very low rate of finding a resource patch if they search independently. When large numbers of individuals search at the same time, however, the probability that one of them finds one of the patches is considerably larger. If individuals are able to monitor and use the discoveries of others in their own search, they can increase their own rate of finding resources.

    Many of...

  7. Chapter 4 Making Decisions
    (pp. 77-100)

    The previous chapter looked at how information is transferred between individuals, in particular when they are looking for food. In one sense we can talk about individuals making decisions about where to collect food. The ants decide which of two food sources to exploit. Under natural conditions, however, food is often depleted or moves. As a result the available alternatives change and it is difficult to define when or if a decision has been made, or to even usefully talk about decisions between alternatives.

    There are, however, many situations when animals have to decide between two or more options, whose...

  8. Chapter 5 Moving Together
    (pp. 101-129)

    Some of the most mesmerizing examples of collective behavior are seen overhead every day. V-shaped formations of migrating geese, starlings dancing in the evening sky, and hungry seagulls swarming over a fish market, are just some of the wide variety of shapes formed by bird flocks. Fish schools also come in many different shapes and sizes: stationary swarms; predator avoiding vacuoles and flash expansions; hourglasses and vortices; highly aligned cruising parabolas, herds, and balls. These dynamic spatial patterns often provide the examples that first come into our heads when we think of animal groups.

    While the preceding three chapters described...

  9. Chapter 6 Synchronization
    (pp. 130-150)

    Synchronization occurs when large numbers of individuals co-ordinate to act in unison. In this wide definition of the word, many different types of collective behavior are examples of synchronization. A highly aligned group of birds, fish, or particles can be said to have synchronized their direction of movement. More commonly, however, when we use the word synchronization we are thinking about time. Bank robbers synchronize their watches before a robbery, the instruments of the orchestra are synchronized by the conductor and the sound is synchronized to the pictures in a film. It is this narrower sense of the word synchronization...

  10. Chapter 7 Structures
    (pp. 151-172)

    In Småland in southern Sweden the ground is full of stones, carried down during the ice age. When the people of Småland began to farm the land they picked up the stones in an area, lay them in piles at the side and planted their crops. As the years went by they ploughed the fields and more stones came up and the piles turned into walls. As the walls expanded they joined each other, separating the land into a patchwork of separate fields. If you go to Småland today, you will find well-ploughed fields surrounded by thick walls with occasional...

  11. Chapter 8 Regulation
    (pp. 173-197)

    At any time during the working day, I can get up from my desk, walk down to the cafeteria, and find a container full of hot coffee from which I can pour myself a cup. The fact that the coffee is there waiting for me is not a consequence of careful preparation for my arrival by the cafeteria staff. I could go across to the next building, where I have never been before, walk into the basement café and sitting there waiting for me would be a similar container also filled with coffee. Not only coffee, but food, clothes, houses,...

  12. Chapter 9 Complicated Interactions
    (pp. 198-222)

    Throughout this book I have emphasized how simple rules followed by individual animals and humans can produce surprisingly complex patterns. It is this observation, combined with the idea that we can use mathematical models to predict these patterns, upon which the idea of self-organization is founded (Camazine et al. 2001; Nicolis & Prigogine 1977). Indeed, it is common to hear these “complex systems” contrasted with “complicated systems.” The former term is associated with systems in which complexity emerges from simple interactions, while the latter is associated with systems where large numbers of different components, each with its own particular role,...

  13. Chapter 10 The Evolution of Co-operation
    (pp. 223-252)

    A fundamental question about all forms of collective animal behavior is how they evolved through natural selection. At various points in this book I have turned to arguments based on individuals adopting or evolving behaviors that increase their own fitness to explain or make predictions about group behavior. For example, group size distribution was described in terms of individuals attempting to join a group of a size that maximizes their fitness (chapter 2); foraging birds were described as balancing searching for food themselves with copying others (chapter 3); consensus decision-making and synchronization were described in terms of individuals co-ordinating so...

  14. Chapter 11 Conclusions
    (pp. 253-258)

    This book has progressed from coming together through information transfer, decision-making, moving together, synchronization, structures, and regulation to finally arrive at complicated interactions. This progression has taken on increasingly complex aspects of collective animal behavior. Each chapter has attempted to unify group behavior of different species in these different situations and explain similarities in the underlying function and mechanisms. I will close this book with a brief discussion of how I believe we should think of the science of collective animal behavior and suggest some future directions for research.

    This book grew from a review article I wrote three years...

  15. References
    (pp. 259-292)
  16. Index
    (pp. 293-302)