Collective Animal Behavior

Collective Animal Behavior

by David J. T. Sumpter


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Fish travel in schools, birds migrate in flocks, honeybees swarm, and ants build trails. How and why do these collective behaviors occur? Exploring how coordinated group patterns emerge from individual interactions, Collective Animal Behavior reveals why animals produce group behaviors and examines their evolution across a range of species.

Providing a synthesis of mathematical modeling, theoretical biology, and experimental work, David Sumpter investigates how animals move and arrive together, how they transfer information, how they make decisions and synchronize their activities, and how they build collective structures. Sumpter constructs a unified appreciation of how different group-living species coordinate their behaviors and why natural selection has produced these groups. For the first time, the book combines traditional approaches to behavioral ecology with ideas about self-organization and complex systems from physics and mathematics. Sumpter offers a guide for working with key models in this area along with case studies of their application, and he shows how ideas about animal behavior can be applied to understanding human social behavior.

Containing a wealth of accessible examples as well as qualitative and quantitative features, Collective Animal Behavior will interest behavioral ecologists and all scientists studying complex systems.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691148434
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 10/17/2010
Pages: 312
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

David J. T. Sumpter is professor of applied mathematics at Uppsala University in Sweden.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Chapter 1: Introduction 1

Chapter 2: Coming Together 14

Chapter 3: Information Transfer 44

Chapter 4: Making Decisions 77

Chapter 5: Moving Together 101

Chapter 6: Synchronization 130

Chapter 7: Structures 151

Chapter 8: Regulation 173

Chapter 9: Complicated Interactions 198

Chapter 10: The Evolution of Co-operation 223

Chapter 11: Conclusions 253

References 259

Index 293

What People are Saying About This

Graeme Ruxton

This well-organized, engaging, and authoritative book demonstrates that significant strides have been made in the mathematical models examining the collective behaviors of animals. No other book draws the disparate literature in this field together. This in itself would be an achievement, but Sumpter offers more: insightful comparisons between models, noteworthy bridges between mechanistic and functional schools of model building, and illuminating discussions of models' successes and limitations.
Graeme Ruxton, University of Glasgow


This is a comprehensive, insightful, and fascinating introduction to how, and why, animals behave as a collective. From swarming ants and locusts, to flocking birds and human crowds, this modern synthesis is a must-read for biologists, mathematicians, physicists, and computer scientists who seek to understand the underlying mechanisms and evolutionary principles of animal grouping. Both scholarly and accessible, this book provides us a tantalizing overview of one of the most exciting new fields in biology—collective animal behavior.
Iain D. Couzin, "Princeton University"


This book fills an important niche that will be of interest to scientists across disciplines. Clear and well-illustrated, this is an excellent learning and teaching resource.
Darren P. Croft, University of Exeter

From the Publisher

"This book fills an important niche that will be of interest to scientists across disciplines. Clear and well-illustrated, this is an excellent learning and teaching resource."—Darren P. Croft, University of Exeter

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Collective Animal Behavior 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
yarriofultramar on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent treatise on mathematical modeling of complex behaviours in animals. Approachable math, good examples. Fascinating!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*watches from above*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Looked at Swyft then looked around. "I think so," she said.