Collective Animal Behaviour

Collective Behaviour

Researchers: Jerome Buhl, James Gilbert, Mathieu Lihoreau, Stephen Simpson

This research aims to untangle and make sense of the web of interactions between animals that live in groups, to understand their collective organisation. Some of the groups we study, such as ant and human societies, are highly co-operative, while others, such as swarms of locusts, are driven by a shared, but selfish desire for food or shelter. How do societies make informed, unanimous decisions? How do fish schools move in unison? How does group behaviour produce population dynamics? How does information flow between individuals in a complex, ever changing environment? We try to answer these questions through a combination of laboratory and field experiments, automated computer vision, computer simulations and mathematical models.

Key Publications:

  • Buhl J, Sword GA, Clissold FJ, and Simpson SJ. 2011. Group structure in locust migratory bands. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology 65:265-273.
  • Bazazi S, Romanczuk P, Thomas S, Schimansky-Geier L, Hale JJ, Miller GA, Sword GA, Simpson SJ, and Couzin ID. 2011. Nutritional state and collective motion: from individuals to mass migration. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 278:356-363.
  • Bazazi S, Buhl J, Hale JJ, Anstey ML, Sword GA, Simpson SJ, and Couzin ID. 2008. Collective motion and cannibalism in locust migratory bands. Current Biology 18:1-5.
  • Dussutour A, Simpson SJ, Despland E, and Colasurdo N. 2007. When the group denies the individual. Animal Behaviour 74:931-939.
  • Buhl J, Sumpter DJT, Couzin ID, Hale JJ, Despland E, Miller E, and Simpson SJ. 2006. From disorder to order in marching locusts. Science 312:1402-1406.
  • Simpson SJ, Sword GA, Lorch PD, and Couzin ID 2006. Cannibal crickets on a forced march for protein and salt. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 103:4152-4156.

Nutrition and Sociality

Researchers: Jerome Buhl, James Gilbert, Mathieu Lihoreau, Stephen Simpson

Our aim is to investigate the links between individual nutrition and the different steps leading to the evolution of advanced social systems. At the most conspicuous level, nutrition is a primary factor determining the spatio-temporal distribution of organisms. Once groups are established, how does nutrition fashion the interactions between individuals by acting upon their behaviour and performance? How does it affect the emergence of collective behaviour such as aggregations, mass migrations, synchronised activities, and collective choices? How do the variations of nutritional requirements among individuals lead to the differentiation of groups and division of labour? We try to answer these questions through a combination of laboratory and field experiments, mathematical models and computer simulations. Most of our experimental work is on insects, although some work has examined fish and mammals - including humans.

Key Publications:

  • Hansen MJ, Buhl J, Bazazi S, Simpson SJ, and Sword GA. 2011. Cannibalism in the lifeboat - collective movement in Australian plague locusts. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 65:1715-1720.
  • Bazazi S, Romanczuk P, Thomas S, Schimansky-Geier L, Hale JJ, Miller GA, Sword GA, Simpson SJ, and Couzin ID. 2011. Nutritional state and collective motion: from individuals to mass migration. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 278:356-363.
  • Lihoreau M, Deneubourg JL, and Rivault C. 2010. Collective foraging decision in a gregarious insect. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 64:1577-1587.
  • Dussutour A and Simpson, SJ. 2009. Communal nutrition in ants. Current Biology 19:740-744.
  • Bazazi S, Buhl J, Hale JJ, Anstey ML, Sword GA, Simpson SJ, and Couzin ID 2008. Collective motion and cannibalism in locust migratory bands. Current Biology 18:1-5.