Most organisms are social at some point in their life, and there are many proposed advantages for collecting together in groups, such as enhanced predator detection, sharing of social information, and an increased ability to find and collect food.
Lots of science being done internationally is currently focussed on how the dynamic behaviour of groups comes from how the group members are able to follow rules within the group and respond to information that is available to them – researchers are finding that seemingly complex group behaviours can come through individuals following simple rules about what is happening in their immediate proximity, and that there doesn’t necessarily need to be individuals coordinating how the group works. We are interested in picking apart the rules that individuals are following.
This ongoing work uses a variety of theoretical and experimental techniques to explore how both the behaviour and physical attributes of other group members and the needs of the individual influence its behaviour. We are using the rules derived from game theoretic work to explore how herding animals behave in the field.
Giles SL, Nicol CJ, Harris PA & Rands SA (2015). Dominance rank is associated with body condition in outdoor-living domestic horses (Equus caballus). Applied Animal Behaviour Science 166: 71-79 | full text (open access) | pdf
McDonald ND, Rands SA, Hill F, Elder C & Ioannou CC (2016). Consensus and experience trump leadership, suppressing individual personality during social foraging. Science Advances 2: e1600892 | full text (open access) | pdf
Rands SA (2012). Using physical and computer simulations of collective behaviour as an introduction to modelling concepts for applied biologists. Bioscience Education 19: article 4 | abstract | article | pdf | zipped netlogo files | supplementary material
Rands SA, Cowlishaw G, Pettifor RA, Rowcliffe JM & Johnstone RA (2003). The spontaneous emergence of leaders and followers in foraging pairs. Nature 423: 432-434 | abstract
Rands SA, Cowlishaw G, Pettifor RA, Rowcliffe JM & Johnstone RA (2008). The emergence of leaders and followers in foraging pairs when the qualities of individuals differ. BMC Evolutionary Biology 8: article 51 | abstract | pdf | full text
Rands SA & Johnstone RA (2006). Statistical measures for defining an individual’s degree of independence within state-dependent dynamic games. BMC Evolutionary Biology 6: article 81 | abstract | pdf | full text
Rands SA, Pettifor RA, Rowcliffe JM & Cowlishaw G (2006). Social foraging and dominance relationships: the effects of socially mediated interference. Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology 60: 572-581 | abstract| pdf | full text