The evolution of distributed sensing and collective computation in animal populations

Hein, A. M., Rosenthal, S. B., Hagstrom, G. I., Berdahl, A., Torney, C. J. and Couzin, I. D. (2015) The evolution of distributed sensing and collective computation in animal populations. eLife, 4, e10955. (doi:10.7554/eLife.10955) (PMID:26652003) (PMCID:PMC4755780)

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Abstract

Many animal groups exhibit rapid, coordinated collective motion. Yet, the evolutionary forces that cause such collective responses to evolve are poorly understood. Here, we develop analytical methods and evolutionary simulations based on experimental data from schooling fish. We use these methods to investigate how populations evolve within unpredictable, time-varying resource environments. We show that populations evolve toward a distinctive regime in behavioral phenotype space, where small responses of individuals to local environmental cues cause spontaneous changes in the collective state of groups. These changes resemble phase transitions in physical systems. Through these transitions, individuals evolve the emergent capacity to sense and respond to resource gradients (i.e. individuals perceive gradients via social interactions, rather than sensing gradients directly), and to allocate themselves among distinct, distant resource patches. Our results yield new insight into how natural selection, acting on selfish individuals, results in the highly effective collective responses evident in nature.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Torney, Dr Colin
Authors: Hein, A. M., Rosenthal, S. B., Hagstrom, G. I., Berdahl, A., Torney, C. J., and Couzin, I. D.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Mathematics and Statistics > Mathematics
Journal Name:eLife
Publisher:eLife Sciences Publications
ISSN:2050-084X
ISSN (Online):2050-084X
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2014 Hein et al.
First Published:First published in eLife 4:e10955
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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