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Copycat dynamics in leaderless animal group navigation

Codling, EA and Bode, NWF (2014) 'Copycat dynamics in leaderless animal group navigation.' Movement Ecology, 2 (1). ISSN 2051-3933

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Abstract

© 2014 Codling and Bode; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Background: Many animals are known to have improved navigational efficiency when moving together as a social group. One potential mechanism for social group navigation is known as the 'many wrongs principle', where information from many inaccurate compasses is pooled across the group. In order to understand how animal groups may use the many wrongs principle to navigate, it is important to consider how directional information is transferred and shared within the group. Methods: Here we use an individual-based model to explore the information-sharing and copying dynamics of a leaderless animal group navigating towards a target in a virtual environment. We assume that communication and information-sharing is indirect and arises through individuals partially copying the movement direction of their neighbours and weighting this information relative to their individual navigational knowledge. Results: We find that the best group navigation performance occurs when individuals directly copy the direction of movement of a subset of their neighbours while only giving a small (6%) weighting to their individual navigational knowledge. Surprisingly, such a strategy is shown to be highly efficient regardless of the level of individual navigational error. We find there is little relative improvement in navigational efficiency when individuals copy from more than 7 influential neighbours. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that we would expect navigating group-living animals to predominantly copy the movement of others rather than relying on their own navigational knowledge. We discuss our results in the context of individual and group navigation behaviour in animals.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Mathematical Sciences, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2014 10:19
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2019 11:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/11670

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