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Evolution of Swarming Behavior Is Shaped by How Predators Attack

Animal grouping behaviors have been widely studied due to their implications for understanding social intelligence, collective cognition, and potential applications in engineering, artificial intelligence, and robotics. An important biological aspect of these studies is discerning which selection pressures favor the evolution of grouping behavior. In the past decade, researchers have begun using evolutionary computation to study the evolutionary effects of these selection pressures in predator-prey models. The selfish herd hypothesis states that concentrated groups arise because prey selfishly attempt to place their conspecifics between themselves and the predator, thus causing an endless cycle of movement toward the center of the group. Using an evolutionary model of a predator-prey system, we show that how predators attack is critical to the evolution of the selfish herd. Following this discovery, we show that density-dependent predation provides an abstraction of Hamilton's original formulation of domains of danger. Finally, we verify that density-dependent predation provides a sufficient selective advantage for prey to evolve the selfish herd in response to predation by coevolving predators. Thus, our work corroborates Hamilton's selfish herd hypothesis in a digital evolutionary model, refines the assumptions of the selfish herd hypothesis, and generalizes the domain of danger concept to density-dependent predation.

 

Evolution of Swarming Behavior Is Shaped by How Predators Attack
Randal S. Olson
David B. Knoester
Christoph Adami

Artificial Life

http://dx.doi.org/10.1162/ARTL_a_00206

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Biological physics: Swarming microtubules

Biological physics: Swarming microtubules | Papers | Scoop.it

The spectacle of animals moving en masse is arguably one of the most fascinating phenomena in biology. For example, schools of fish can move in an orderly manner, and then change direction abruptly or, if under pressure from a nearby predator, swirl like a vigorously stirred fluid. The non-living world also has examples of collective motion, in systems that consist of units ranging from macromolecules to metallic rods, or even robots. On page 448 of this issue, Sumino et al. describe another, until now unobserved, example of such behaviour: the coordinated motion of hundreds of thousands of subcellular structures known as microtubules, which spontaneously self-organize into a lattice-like structure of vortices. When considered in the context of about half a dozen known universal classes of collective-motion pattern, this new structure poses challenges in terms of explaining how it can arise and its relevance to applications.

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