Saturday, 5 October 2013

New Research Links Individual Animal Behavior With Social Spacing

Sep. 30, 2013 — The joint study by Luca Giuggioli and Jonathan Potts from the University of Bristol, and Daniel Rubenstein and Simon Levin from Princeton University shows that animals deposit marks wherever they go to show their presence, and retreat from marks left by a member of the same species more quickly if the encountered mark is recent.

The study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences(PNAS) has important implications for how epidemic disease spreads and animal sociality.

Lead author, Dr Luca Giuggioli of Bristol's Department of Engineering Mathematics and School of Biological Sciences said: "Movement phenomena are among the most basic characteristics of an animal's life. Understanding the causes and consequences of organism movement requires merging tools and ideas across different disciplines.

"This study shows the similarities between the mechanisms of environment-mediated interaction with which an insect colony may find resources and those with which a population of animals segregate in space by forming territories and home ranges.

"By viewing animal space use processes as a decentralised co-ordination of tasks, we provide a novel platform to develop more efficient algorithms to control robots in search and rescue operations, environmental monitoring and surveillance."

Identifying how population level patterns emerge from the local rules of interaction between individuals is key to the development of bio-inspired technologies and is a research theme at the Bristol Centre for Complexity Sciences, where part of the study was carried out.

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