Inferring the rules of social interaction in migrating caribou

Torney, C. J. , Lamont, M., Debell, L., Angohiatok, R. J., Leclerc, L.-M. and Berdahl, A. M. (2018) Inferring the rules of social interaction in migrating caribou. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 373(1746), 20170385. (doi:10.1098/rstb.2017.0385) (PMID:29581404)

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Abstract

Social interactions are a significant factor that influence the decision-making of species ranging from humans to bacteria. In the context of animal migration, social interactions may lead to improved decision-making, greater ability to respond to environmental cues, and the cultural transmission of optimal routes. Despite their significance, the precise nature of social interactions in migrating species remains largely unknown. Here we deploy unmanned aerial systems to collect aerial footage of caribou as they undertake their migration from Victoria Island to mainland Canada. Through a Bayesian analysis of trajectories we reveal the fine-scale interaction rules of migrating caribou and show they are attracted to one another and copy directional choices of neighbours, but do not interact through clearly defined metric or topological interaction ranges. By explicitly considering the role of social information on movement decisions we construct a map of near neighbour influence that quantifies the nature of information flow in these herds. These results will inform more realistic, mechanism-based models of migration in caribou and other social ungulates, leading to better predictions of spatial use patterns and responses to changing environmental conditions. Moreover, we anticipate that the protocol we developed here will be broadly applicable to study social behaviour in a wide range of migratory and non-migratory taxa. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Collective movement ecology’.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation grant IOS-1545888 (A.M.B.), and a James S. McDonnell Foundation Studying Complex Systems Scholar Award (C.J.T.).
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Torney, Dr Colin
Authors: Torney, C. J., Lamont, M., Debell, L., Angohiatok, R. J., Leclerc, L.-M., and Berdahl, A. M.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Mathematics and Statistics > Mathematics
Journal Name:Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Publisher:The Royal Society
ISSN:0962-8436
ISSN (Online):1471-2970
Published Online:26 March 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Authors
First Published:First published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 373(1746): 20170385
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License
Data DOI:10.5525/gla.researchdata.579

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