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Curr Biol. 2017 Sep 25;27(18):2862-2868.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.08.004. Epub 2017 Sep 7.

Consistent Individual Differences Drive Collective Behavior and Group Functioning of Schooling Fish.

Author information

1
Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3DT, UK; Department of Collective Behaviour, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Am Obstberg 1, Radolfzell 78315, Germany; Department of Biology, University of Konstanz, Universitätsstrasse 10, Konstanz 78464, Germany. Electronic address: j.w.jolles@gmail.com.
2
Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3DT, UK; Centre for Ecology and Conservation, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Penryn, Cornwall TR10 9FE, UK.
3
Department of Collective Behaviour, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Am Obstberg 1, Radolfzell 78315, Germany; Department of Biology, University of Konstanz, Universitätsstrasse 10, Konstanz 78464, Germany.
4
Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3DT, UK.

Abstract

The ubiquity of consistent inter-individual differences in behavior ("animal personalities") [1, 2] suggests that they might play a fundamental role in driving the movements and functioning of animal groups [3, 4], including their collective decision-making, foraging performance, and predator avoidance. Despite increasing evidence that highlights their importance [5-16], we still lack a unified mechanistic framework to explain and to predict how consistent inter-individual differences may drive collective behavior. Here we investigate how the structure, leadership, movement dynamics, and foraging performance of groups can emerge from inter-individual differences by high-resolution tracking of known behavioral types in free-swimming stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) shoals. We show that individual's propensity to stay near others, measured by a classic "sociability" assay, was negatively linked to swim speed across a range of contexts, and predicted spatial positioning and leadership within groups as well as differences in structure and movement dynamics between groups. In turn, this trait, together with individual's exploratory tendency, measured by a classic "boldness" assay, explained individual and group foraging performance. These effects of consistent individual differences on group-level states emerged naturally from a generic model of self-organizing groups composed of individuals differing in speed and goal-orientedness. Our study provides experimental and theoretical evidence for a simple mechanism to explain the emergence of collective behavior from consistent individual differences, including variation in the structure, leadership, movement dynamics, and functional capabilities of groups, across social and ecological scales. In addition, we demonstrate individual performance is conditional on group composition, indicating how social selection may drive behavioral differentiation between individuals.

KEYWORDS:

animal grouping; animal personality; collective behavior; consistent individual differences; group performance; group phenotypic composition; leadership; schooling; sociality; stickleback

PMID:
28889975
PMCID:
PMC5628957
DOI:
10.1016/j.cub.2017.08.004
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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