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Emergence and repeatability of leadership and coordinated motion in fish shoals / Dimitra Georgopoulou, Andrew King, Rowan Brown, Ines Fuertbauer

Behavioral Ecology

Swansea University Authors: Dimitra Georgopoulou, Andrew King, Rowan Brown, Ines Fuertbauer

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DOI (Published version): 10.1093/beheco/arab108

Abstract

Studies of self-organizing groups like schools of fish or flocks of birds have sought to uncover the behavioral rules individuals use (local-level interactions) to coordinate their motion (global-level patterns). However, empirical studies tend to focus on short-term or one-off observations where co...

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Published in: Behavioral Ecology
ISSN: 1045-2249 1465-7279
Published: Oxford University Press (OUP) 2021
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa57907
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Abstract: Studies of self-organizing groups like schools of fish or flocks of birds have sought to uncover the behavioral rules individuals use (local-level interactions) to coordinate their motion (global-level patterns). However, empirical studies tend to focus on short-term or one-off observations where coordination has already been established or describe transitions between different coordinated states. As a result, we have a poor understanding of how behavioral rules develop and are maintained in groups. Here, we study the emergence and repeatability of coordinated motion in shoals of stickleback fish (Gasterosteus aculeatus). Shoals were introduced to a simple environment, where their spatio-temporal position was deduced via video analysis. Using directional correlation between fish velocities and wavelet analysis of fish positions, we demonstrate how shoals that are initially uncoordinated in their motion quickly transition to a coordinated state with defined individual leader-follower roles. The identities of leaders and followers were repeatable across two trials, and coordination was reached more quickly during the second trial and by groups of fish with higher activity levels (tested before trials). The rapid emergence of coordinated motion and repeatability of social roles in stickleback fish shoals may act to reduce uncertainty of social interactions in the wild, where individuals live in a system with high fission-fusion dynamics and non-random patterns of association.
Keywords: collective behavior, coordination, emergence, leadership, phase transition, shoaling, time-depth
College: College of Science
Funders: ONRG - RESEARCH GRANT - N62909-21-1-2030; £157911.35; BSR1096-100 Navy Grant; "Animals are not particles: a framework for second generation hetero-swarm robotics", Co-I