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Landing together: How flocks arrive at a coherent action in time and space in the presence of perturbations

  • Ferdinandy, B.
  • Bhattacharya, K.
  • Ábel, D.
  • Vicsek, T.
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    Collective motion is abundant in nature, producing a vast amount of phenomena which have been studied in recent years, including the landing of flocks of birds. We investigate the collective decision making scenario where a flock of birds decides the optimal time of landing in the absence of a global leader. We introduce a simple phenomenological model in the spirit of the statistical mechanics-based self-propelled particles (SPPs) approach to interpret this process. We expect that our model is applicable to a larger class of spatiotemporal decision making situations than just the landing of flocks (which process is used as a paradigmatic case). In the model birds are only influenced by observable variables, like position and velocity. Heterogeneity is introduced in the flock in terms of a depletion time after which a bird feels increasing bias to move towards the ground. Our model demonstrates a possible mechanism by which animals in a large group can arrive at an egalitarian decision about the time of switching from one activity to another in the absence of a leader. In particular, we show the existence of a paradoxical effect where noise enhances the coherence of the landing process.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378437111007898
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications.

    Volume (Year): 391 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 4 ()
    Pages: 1207-1215

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:phsmap:v:391:y:2012:i:4:p:1207-1215
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.elsevier.com/physica-a-statistical-mechpplications/

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