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Publication - Dr Luca Giuggioli

    Identifying influential neighbors in animal flocking


    Jiang, L, Giuggioli, L, Perna, A, Escobedo, R, Lecheval, V, Sire, C, Han, Z & Theraulaz, G, 2017, ‘Identifying influential neighbors in animal flocking’. PLoS Computational Biology, vol 13.


    Schools of fish and flocks of birds can move together in synchrony and decide on new directions of movement in a seamless way. This is possible because group members constantly share directional information with their neighbors. Although detecting the directionality of other group members is known to be important to maintain cohesion, it is not clear how many neighbors each individual can simultaneously track and pay attention to, and what the spatial distribution of these influential neighbors is. Here, we address these questions on shoals of Hemigrammus rhodostomus, a species of fish exhibiting strong schooling behavior. We adopt a data-driven analysis technique based on the study of short-term directional correlations to identify which neighbors have the strongest influence over the participation of an individual in a collective U-turn event. We find that fish mainly react to one or two neighbors at a time. Moreover, we find no correlation between the distance rank of a neighbor and its likelihood to be influential. We interpret our results in terms of fish allocating sequential and selective attention to their neighbors.

    Full details in the University publications repository