Analysis and Modelling of Collective Animal Motion

Project title: Analysis and Modelling of Collective Animal Motion

Project participants: Dr Timothy Schaerf (University of New England), Professor Ashley Ward (University of Sydney)

Project description:
The spectacular patterns of collective movement have been, and remain, a long standing and major interest in many branches of science, including biology, mathematics, physics and computational science. From the early 1980s until the late 2000s computational self-propelled particle models were the dominant methods for examining how, and what type of, individual-level interactions could result in the amazing emergent patterns formed by groups such as flocking birds, shoaling fish and even crowds of humans. The influence of these models on the study of collective motion has been immense, with multiple model-based studies led by contemporary researchers cited thousands of times each. It is only in the last decade that advances in automated tracking methods have led to the exciting development of techniques for estimating the local rules of interaction used by real animals to coordinate collective motion directly from observational data (as opposed to inferring possible rules using models). In spite of these advances, many of the techniques for analysis are still in their infancy. This project will focus on refining existing techniques and developing new techniques for quantifying individual-interactions from automated tracking data. The more accurate analysis of experimental data will then be used to help refine and build on simulation models for collective animal movement.

Related publications:

  1. M J Hansen, T M Schaerf and A J W Ward, The influence of nutritional state on individual and group movement behaviour in shoals of crimson-spotted rainbowfish (Melanotaenia duboulayi), Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 69(10):1713-1722, (2015).
  2. M J Hansen, T M Schaerf and A J W Ward, The effect of hunger on the exploratory behaviour of shoals of mosquitofish Gambusia holbrooki, Behavior, 152:12-13, (2015).
  3. J E Herbert-Read, S Krause, L J Morrell, T M Schaerf, J Krause and A J W Ward, The role of individuality in collective group movement, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 280:20122564, (2013).
  4. A Strandburg-Peshkin et al., Visual sensory networks and effective information transfer in animal groups, Current Biology, 23:R709-R711, (2013).
  5. Y Katz, K Tunstrøm, C C Ioannou, C Huepe and I D Couzin, Inferring the structure and dynamics of interactions in schooling fish, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108:18720-18725, (2011).
  6. J E Herbert-Read, A Perna, R P Mann, T M Schaerf, D J T Sumpter and A J W Ward, Inferring the rules of interaction of shoaling fish, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108:18726-18731, (2011).
  7. M Nagy, Z Àkos, D Biro and T Vicsek, Hierarchical group dynamics in pigeon flocks, Nature, 464:890-893, (2010).
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