Photo: Ariana Strandburg-Peshkin
Photo: Ariana Strandburg-Peshkin

New insights into collective behaviour

Collective behaviour research expertise highlighted in perennial scientific journal

In the current issue of the time-honoured scientific journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, scientists from the University of Konstanz and the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology (MPIO) in Radolfzell present new insights into the flight movements of migrating storks as well as individual influence and leadership in group-living animals. Two articles featuring the research results were published on 26 March 2018 in the themed issue entitled “Collective Movement Ecology”.

In their research article “Synchronization, coordination and collective sensing during thermalling flight of freely migrating white storks”, post-doctoral researchers Dr Máté Nagy and Dr Andrea Flack in collaboration with Professor Iain Couzin, Dr Wolfgang Fiedler and Professor Martin Wikelski analyse flight trajectories of a migrating flock of white storks within thermal updrafts. Utilising high-resolution GPS technology to track individual birds, the interdisciplinary team of researchers were not only able to examine the environmental conditions surrounding the flock and the dynamic airflow changes within the thermals, but they were also able to recognise how individual storks can influence flight movement and direction within flock subgroups.

In a second article published in this distinguished scientific journal, entitled “Inferring influence and leadership in moving animal groups”, an interdisciplinary team of researchers address the fundamental challenge in understanding how collective decisions are reached in animal groups. Post-doctoral computational biologist Dr Ariana Strandburg-Peshkin, doctoral student Danai Papageorgiou, and Dr Damien Farine in collaboration with Dr Meg Crofoot from the University of California, Davis, present a novel methodological framework for approaching the study of individual influence and leadership in group-living animals. In order to constructively inform future research in the field of Collective Behaviour, they also review both current and emerging analytical tools and methods applied in empirical studies that focus on research topics related to collective movement, influence, and leadership.

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B is a guest-edited and peer-reviewed scientific journal that addresses current research in the life sciences. Both it and its sister publication serving the physical sciences – Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A – developed out of the Royal Society’s original publication established in 1665, making it the first and longest-running scientific journal in the world.

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