Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Elife. 2015 Dec 10;4:e10955. doi: 10.7554/eLife.10955.

The evolution of distributed sensing and collective computation in animal populations.

Author information

1
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, United States.
2
Department of Physics, Princeton University, Princeton, United States.
3
Department of Collective Behaviour, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Konstanz, Germany.
4
Santa Fe Institute, Santa Fe, United States.
5
Centre for Mathematics and the Environment, University of Exeter, Penryn, United Kingdom.
6
Chair of Biodiversity and Collective Behaviour, University of Konstanz, Konstanz, Germany.

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.

KEYWORDS:

Collective Behavior; Decision-making; Explore-exploit; Optimization; Physical Computation; Swarm; ecology; evolutionary biology; genomics; none

PMID:
26652003
PMCID:
PMC4755780
DOI:
10.7554/eLife.10955
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for eLife Sciences Publications, Ltd Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center