Differences in Nutrient Requirements Imply a Non-Linear Emergence of Leaders in Animal Groups

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2010
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Sueur, Cédric
Deneubourg, Jean-Louis
Petit, Odile
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PLoS Computational Biology. 2010, 6(9), e1000917. ISSN 1553-734X. eISSN 1553-7358. Available under: doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000917
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Collective decision making and especially leadership in groups are among the most studied topics in natural, social, and political sciences. Previous studies have shown that some individuals are more likely to be leaders because of their social power or the pertinent information they possess. One challenge for all group members, however, is to satisfy their needs. In many situations, we do not yet know how individuals within groups distribute leadership decisions between themselves in order to satisfy time-varying individual requirements. To gain insight into this problem, we build a dynamic model where group members have to satisfy different needs but are not aware of each other's needs. Data about needs of animals come from real data observed in macaques. Several studies showed that a collective movement may be initiated by a single individual. This individual may be the dominant one, the oldest one, but also the one having the highest physiological needs. In our model, the individual with the lowest reserve initiates movements and decides for all its conspecifics. This simple rule leads to a viable decision-making system where all individuals may lead the group at one moment and thus suit their requirements. However, a single individual becomes the leader in 38% to 95% of cases and the leadership is unequally (according to an exponential law) distributed according to the heterogeneity of needs in the group. The results showed that this non-linearity emerges when one group member reaches physiological requirements, mainly the nutrient ones - protein, energy and water depending on weight - superior to those of its conspecifics. This amplification may explain why some leaders could appear in animal groups without any despotism, complex signalling, or developed cognitive ability.

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570 Biowissenschaften, Biologie
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ISO 690SUEUR, Cédric, Jean-Louis DENEUBOURG, Odile PETIT, Iain D. COUZIN, 2010. Differences in Nutrient Requirements Imply a Non-Linear Emergence of Leaders in Animal Groups. In: PLoS Computational Biology. 2010, 6(9), e1000917. ISSN 1553-734X. eISSN 1553-7358. Available under: doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000917
BibTex
@article{Sueur2010Diffe-39865,
  year={2010},
  doi={10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000917},
  title={Differences in Nutrient Requirements Imply a Non-Linear Emergence of Leaders in Animal Groups},
  number={9},
  volume={6},
  issn={1553-734X},
  journal={PLoS Computational Biology},
  author={Sueur, Cédric and Deneubourg, Jean-Louis and Petit, Odile and Couzin, Iain D.},
  note={Article Number: e1000917}
}
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