Emma Despland

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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)
Central to swarm formation in migratory locusts is a crowding-induced change from a "solitarious" to a "gregarious" phenotype. This change can occur within the lifetime of a single locust and accrues across generations. It represents an extreme example of phenotypic plasticity. We present computer simulations and a laboratory experiment that show how(More)
The presence of conflicts in the allocation of resources among the different functions of an organism is a fundamental postulate of modern ecology. It is assumed that reproduction occurs at a cost because it monopolizes resources that could be used for other functions (e.g., growth). These conflicts may be particularly evident under stressful conditions,(More)
Desert locusts in the solitarious phase were repeatedly touched on various body regions to identify the site of mechanosensory input that elicits the transition to gregarious phase behavior. The phase state of individual insects was measured after a 4-h period of localized mechanical stimulation, by using a behavioral assay based on multiple logistic(More)
Desert locusts show an extreme form of phenotypic plasticity, changing between a cryptic solitarious phase and a swarming gregarious phase that differ in many aspects of behaviour, physiology and appearance. Solitarious locusts show rapid behavioural phase change in response to tactile stimulation directed to the hind femora. Repeatedly touching as little(More)
The expression of individual differences within a population often depends on environmental conditions. We investigated, first, whether there are differences between individual group-living forest tent caterpillars, Malacosoma disstria, that are expressed only in nutritionally unbalanced environments, and second, to what extent these individual behavioural(More)
Caterpillars are faced with nutritional challenges when feeding on plants. In addition to harmful secondary metabolites and protein- and water-limitations, tissues may be carbohydrate-rich which may attenuate optimal caterpillar performance. Therefore, caterpillars have multiple strategies to cope with surplus carbohydrates. In this study, we raise the(More)
Group living is a common strategy among animals and has arisen independently in over 300 species of Lepidoptera. Yet, activity synchrony between individuals is necessary to derive the benefits that ensue from an aggregated lifestyle. Which individuals decide which activities to perform and when to perform them is, therefore, a fundamental question. In some(More)
Nutritional regulation is a powerful mechanism used by generalist feeders to obtain the balance of nutrients they require from nutritionally diverse, perhaps unbalanced, foods. We examined nutritional regulation in a species with a narrow individual diet breadth: the forest tent caterpillar, Malacosoma disstria. Fourth instar caterpillars were provided with(More)