Volume 112, Number 2, October 2015
|Number of page(s)||6|
|Published online||16 November 2015|
Two-level leader-follower organization in pigeon flocks
1 School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, The University of Newcastle Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia
2 Key Laboratory of Image Processing and Intelligent Control, School of Automation and the State Key Laboratory of Digital Manufacturing Equipment and Technology, Huazhong University of Science and Technology - Wuhan 430074, PRC
3 Web Sciences Center, University of Electronics Science and Technology of China - Chengdu 610054, PRC
Received: 12 August 2015
Accepted: 27 October 2015
The most attractive trait of collective animal behavior is the emergence of highly ordered structures (Cavagna A., Giardina I. and Ginelli F., Phys. Rev. Lett., 110 (2013) 168107). It has been conjectured that the interaction mechanism in pigeon flock dynamics follows a hierarchical leader-follower influential network (Nagy M., Ákos Z., Biro D. and Vicsek T., Nature, 464 (2010) 890). In this paper, a new observation is reported that shows that pigeon flocks actually adopt a much simpler two-level interactive network composed of one leader and some followers. By statistically analyzing the same experimental dataset, we show that for a certain period of time a sole leader determines the motion of the flock while the remaining birds are all followers directly copying the leader's direction with specific time delays. This simple two-level despotic organization is expected to save both motional energy and communication cost, while retaining agility and robustness of the whole group. From an evolutionary perspective, our results suggest that a two-level organization of group flight may be more efficient than a multilevel topology for small pigeon flocks.
PACS: 05.65.+b – Self-organized systems / 87.17.Jj – Cell locomotion, chemotaxis / 89.75.-k – Complex systems
© EPLA, 2015
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