David J. T. Sumpter

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Recent models from theoretical physics have predicted that mass-migrating animal groups may share group-level properties, irrespective of the type of animals in the group. One key prediction is that as the density of animals in the group increases, a rapid transition occurs from disordered movement of individuals within the group to highly aligned(More)
  • D J T Sumpter
  • Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society…
  • 2006
In recent years, the concept of self-organization has been used to understand collective behaviour of animals. The central tenet of self-organization is that simple repeated interactions between individuals can produce complex adaptive patterns at the level of the group. Inspiration comes from patterns seen in physical systems, such as spiralling chemical(More)
When its nest is damaged, a colony of the ant Leptothorax albipennis skillfully emigrates to the best available new site. We investigated how this ability emerges from the behaviors used by ants to recruit nestmates to potential homes. We found that, in a given emigration, only one-third of the colony's workers ever recruit. At first, they summon fellow(More)
Animal groups are said to make consensus decisions when group members come to agree on the same option. Consensus decisions are taxonomically widespread and potentially offer three key benefits: maintenance of group cohesion, enhancement of decision accuracy compared with lone individuals and improvement in decision speed. In the absence of centralized(More)
Despite the growing interest in collective phenomena such as "swarm intelligence" and "wisdom of the crowds," little is known about the mechanisms underlying decision-making in vertebrate animal groups. How do animals use the behavior of others to make more accurate decisions, especially when it is not possible to identify which individuals possess(More)
The sharing and collective processing of information by certain insect societies is one of the reasons that they warrant the superlative epithet 'super-organisms' (Franks 1989, Am. Sci. 77, 138-145). We describe a detailed experimental and mathematical analysis of information exchange and decision-making in, arguably, the most difficult collective choices(More)
Among the most striking aspects of the movement of many animal groups are their sudden coherent changes in direction. Recent observations of locusts and starlings have shown that this directional switching is an intrinsic property of their motion. Similar direction switches are seen in self-propelled particle and other models of group motion. Comprehending(More)
Pheromone trails laid by foraging ants serve as a positive feedback mechanism for the sharing of information about food sources. This feedback is nonlinear, in that ants do not react in a proportionate manner to the amount of pheromone deposited. Instead, strong trails elicit disproportionately stronger responses than weak trails. Such nonlinearity has(More)
Decisions reached through consensus are often more accurate, because they efficiently utilize the diverse information possessed by group members [1-3]. A trust in consensus decision making underlies many of our democratic political and judicial institutions [4], as well as the design of web tools such as Google, Wikipedia, and prediction markets [5, 6]. In(More)
Although it has been suggested that large animal groups should make better decisions than smaller groups, there are few empirical demonstrations of this phenomenon and still fewer explanations of the how these improvements may be made. Here we show that both speed and accuracy of decision making increase with group size in fish shoals under predation(More)