Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Swarms of locusts use social networking to communicate

Date:
July 15, 2011
Source:
Institute of Physics
Summary:
Social studies of Facebook and Twitter have been adapted to gain a greater understanding of the swarming behavior of locusts. The enormous success of social networking sites has vividly illustrated the importance of networking for humans; however for some animals, keeping informed about others of their kind is even more important.

Social studies of Facebook and Twitter have been adapted to gain a greater understanding of the swarming behaviour of locusts.
Credit: iStockphoto/Ruvan Boshoff

Social studies of Facebook and Twitter have been adapted to gain a greater understanding of the swarming behaviour of locusts. The enormous success of social networking sites has vividly illustrated the importance of networking for humans; however for some animals, keeping informed about others of their kind is even more important.

In a study published on July 15, 2011, in the Institute of Physics and German Physical Society's New Journal of Physics, researchers have shown that swarming, a phenomenon that can be crucial to an animal's survival, is created by the same kind of social networks that humans adopt.

Since the 1980s, scientists have been programming computer models to realistically reproduce flocks of birds, schools of fish, herds of quadrupeds and swarms of insects. However, the question of how these groups coordinate to move together has remained a mystery.

It remains more of a mystery when each organism can only see a small area around them, when they are affected by unpredictable changes in the environment, and when there is no clear leader of the collective behaviour.

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Physics of Complex Systems, as well as a US-based scientist supported by the National Science Foundation, addressed this problem from a different perspective: network science.

They used ideas from previous studies on opinion formation in social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, and applied them to a previous study of 120 locust nymphs marching in a ring-shaped arena in the lab.

Studies have shown that the decisions you make, or the opinion you have, are strongly influenced by the decisions and opinions of your friends, or more generally, your contacts in your social network.

Locusts rely heavily on swarming as they are in fact cannibalistic. As they march across barren deserts, locusts carefully keep track of each other so they can remain within striking distance to consume one another -- a cruel, but very efficient, survival strategy.

The study used a computer model to explicitly simulate the social network among locusts and found that the most important component needed to reproduce the movements seen in the lab is the social interactions that occur when locusts, walking in one direction, convince others to walk in the same direction.

The researchers state that it may not be obvious that animals are creating the equivalent of our human social networks however this is the precise mechanism behind swarming transition.

One of the study's authors, Gerd Zschaler, said, "We concluded that the mechanism through which locusts agree on a direction to move together (sometimes with devastating consequences, such as locust plagues) is the same we sometimes use to decide where to live or where to go out: we let ourselves be convinced by those in our social network, often by those going in the opposite direction."

"We don't necessarily pay more attention to those doing the same as us, but many times [we pay more attention] to those doing something different."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Institute of Physics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Huepe et al. Adaptive-network models of swarm dynamics. New Journal of Physics, 15 July 2011 DOI: 10.1088/1367-2630/13/7/073022

Cite This Page:

Institute of Physics. "Swarms of locusts use social networking to communicate." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110714191435.htm>.
Institute of Physics. (2011, July 15). Swarms of locusts use social networking to communicate. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110714191435.htm
Institute of Physics. "Swarms of locusts use social networking to communicate." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110714191435.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Inspired by the way a chameleon changes its colour to disguise itself; scientists in Poland want to replace traditional camouflage paint with thousands of electrochromic plates that will continuously change colour to blend with its surroundings. The first PL-01 concept tank prototype will be tested within a few years, with scientists predicting that a similar technology could even be woven into the fabric of a soldiers' clothing making them virtually invisible to the naked eye. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) — As more and more Bluetooth-enabled devices are reaching consumers, developers are busy connecting them together as part of the Internet of Things. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google's Inbox Is The Latest Gmail Competitor

Google's Inbox Is The Latest Gmail Competitor

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) — Google's new e-mail app is meant for greater personalization and allows users to better categorize their mail, but Gmail isn't going away just yet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Free Math App Is A Teacher's Worst Nightmare

Free Math App Is A Teacher's Worst Nightmare

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) — New photo-recognition software from MicroBlink, called PhotoMath, solves linear equations and simple math problems with step-by-step results. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins