Impacts on, and consequences of, shoaling in fish: collective behaviour in a wider ecological context

Animal groups have been studied for many decades, but a renewed interest in this area has arisen with advances in technology that allow for simulation of many animal agents and acquisition and analysis of large empirical data sets on animal behaviour in groups. Partly due to the influence of mathematics and physics in this field of 'collective behaviour', the emphasis has been on the mechanistic aspects of how groups form, are maintained, and how information transfers and decisions are made within groups. In contrast, less attention has focused on ecological and evolutionary perspectives. To address this, my group's research has recently focused on the effect of collective behaviour on the expression of individual differences within groups, and even more recently, how external factors such as predation and pollution impact collective behaviour. Here I will describe some of this work on sticklebacks, guppies and sea bass which explores collective motion and decision making in this broader context.