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Cronin A.L.,Iwate University | Stumpe M.C.,AnTracks Computer Vision Systems
Journal of the Royal Society Interface | Year: 2014

Individuals derive many benefits from being social, one of which is improved accuracy of decision-making, the so-called 'wisdom of the crowds' effect. This advantage arises because larger groups can pool information from more individuals. At present, limited empirical data indicate that larger groups outperform smaller ones during consensus decision-making in human and non-human animals. Inaccurate decisions can lead to significant costs, and we might therefore expect individuals in small groups to employ mechanisms to compensate for the lack of numbers. Small groups may be able to maintain decision accuracy if individuals are better informed than those in larger groups and/or by increasing the proportion of the group involved in collective decision-making relative to larger groups. In this study, we use interactive computer vision software to investigate individual contributions to consensus decision-making during house-hunting in different sized groups of the ant Myrmecina nipponica. We show that individuals in small colonies invest greater effort in the consensus decision process than those in large colonies and should be better informed as a result. This may act to ameliorate the limitations of group size, but could leave smaller groups more susceptible to additional stresses. © 2014 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

Jolles J.W.,University of Cambridge | Fleetwood-Wilson A.,University of Cambridge | Nakayama S.,University of Cambridge | Nakayama S.,Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries | And 3 more authors.
Behavioral Ecology | Year: 2014

The emergence of leaders and followers is a key factor in facilitating group cohesion in animals. Individual group members have been shown to respond strongly to each other's behavior and thereby affect the emergence and maintenance of these social roles. However, it is not known to what extent previous social experience might still affect individual's leading and following tendencies in later social interactions. Here, by pairing three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) with 2 different consecutive partners, we show a carryover effect of a previous partner's personality on the behavior of focal individuals when paired with a new partner. This carryover effect depended on the relative boldness of the focal individual. Relatively bold but not shy fish spent less time out of cover and led their current partner less if they had previously been paired with a bolder partner. By contrast, following behavior was mainly influenced by the personality of the current partner. Overall, the behavior of relatively bold fish was more consistent across the stages, whereas shy fish changed their behavior more strongly depending on the current context. These findings emphasize how the history of previous social interactions can play a role in the emergence and maintenance of social roles within groups, providing an additional route for individual differences to affect collective behavior. © 2014 International Society for Behavioral Ecology. All rights reserved.

Jolles J.W.,University of Cambridge | Fleetwood-Wilson A.,University of Cambridge | Nakayama S.,University of Cambridge | Nakayama S.,Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries | And 4 more authors.
Animal Behaviour | Year: 2015

Social animals must time and coordinate their behaviour to ensure the benefits of grouping, resulting in collective movements and the potential emergence of leaders and followers. However, individuals often differ consistently from one another in how they cope with their environment, a phenomenon known as animal personality, which may affect how individuals use coordination rules and requiring them to compromise. Here we tracked the movements of pairs of three-spined sticklebacks, Gasterosteus aculeatus, separated by a transparent partition that allowed them to observe and interact with one another in a context containing cover. Individuals differed consistently in their tendency to approach their partner's compartment during collective movements. The strength of this social attraction was positively correlated with the behavioural coordination between members of a pair but was negatively correlated with an individual's tendency to lead. Social attraction may form part of a broader behavioural syndrome as it was predicted by the boldness of an individual, measured in isolation prior to the observation of pairs, and by the boldness of the partner. We found that bolder fish, and those paired with bolder partners, tended to approach their partner's compartment less closely. These findings provide important insights into the mechanisms that govern the dynamics and functioning of social groups and the emergence and maintenance of consistent behavioural differences. © 2014 The Authors.

Pinter-Wollman N.,Stanford University | Bala A.,Stanford University | Merrell A.,Stanford University | Queirolo J.,Stanford University | And 3 more authors.
Animal Behaviour | Year: 2013

Social groups balance flexibility and robustness in their collective response to environmental changes using feedback between behavioural processes that operate at different timescales. Here we examine how behavioural processes operating at two timescales regulate the foraging activity of colonies of the harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex barbatus, allowing them to balance their response to food availability and predation. Previous work showed that the rate at which foragers return to the nest with food influences the rate at which foragers leave the nest. To investigate how interactions inside the nest link the rates of returning and outgoing foragers, we observed outgoing foragers inside the nest in field colonies using a novel observation method. We found that the interaction rate experienced by outgoing foragers inside the nest corresponded to forager return rate, and that the interactions of outgoing foragers were spatially clustered. Activation of a forager occurred on the timescale of seconds: a forager left the nest 3-8. s after a substantial increase in interactions with returning foragers. The availability of outgoing foragers to become activated was adjusted on the timescale of minutes: when forager return was interrupted for more than 4-5. min, available foragers waiting near the nest entrance went deeper into the nest. Thus, forager activation and forager availability both increased with the rate at which foragers returned to the nest. This process was checked by negative feedback between forager activation and forager availability. Regulation of foraging activation on the timescale of seconds provides flexibility in response to fluctuations in food abundance, whereas regulation of forager availability on the timescale of minutes provides robustness in response to sustained disturbance such as predation. © 2013 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.

Franks N.R.,University of Bristol | Worley A.,University of Bristol | Grant K.A.J.,University of Bristol | Gorman A.R.,University of Bristol | And 7 more authors.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2016

Social behaviour may enable organisms to occupy ecological niches that would otherwise be unavailable to them. Here, we test this major evolutionary prin- ciple by demonstrating self-organizing social behaviour in the plant-animal, Symsagittifera roscoffensis. These marine aceol flat worms rely for all of their nutrition on the algae within their bodies: hence their common name. We show that individual worms interact with one another to coordinate their movements so that even at low densities they begin to swim in small polarized groups and at increasing densities such flotillas turn into circular mills. We use computer simulations to: (i) determine if real worms interact socially by com- paring them with virtual worms that do not interact and (ii) show that the social phase transitions of the real worms can occur based only on local inter- actions between and among them. We hypothesize that such social behaviour helps the worms to form the dense biofilms or mats observed on certain sun- exposed sandy beaches in the upper intertidal of the East Atlantic and to become in effect a super-organismic seaweed in a habitat where macro-algal seaweeds cannot anchor themselves. Symsagittifera roscoffensis, a model organ- ism in many other areas in biology (including stem cell regeneration), also seems to be an ideal model for understanding how individual behaviours can lead, through collective movement, to social assemblages. © 2016 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

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