Volume 124, Number 3, November 2018
|Number of page(s)||4|
|Section||Interdisciplinary Physics and Related Areas of Science and Technology|
|Published online||06 December 2018|
Fluctuating environments drive insect swarms into a new state that is robust to perturbations
Rothamsted Research - Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL5 2JQ, UK
Received: 20 July 2018
Accepted: 7 November 2018
In contrast with laboratory insect swarms, wild insect swarms display significant coordinated behaviour. Here it is hypothesised that the presence of a fluctuating environment drives the formation of transient, local order (synchronized subgroups), and that this local order pushes the swarm as a whole into a new state that is robust to environmental perturbations. The hypothesis finds support in a theoretical analysis and in an analysis of pre-existing telemetry data for swarming mosquitoes. I suggest that local order is sufficient to make swarms fault-tolerant and that the swarm state and structure may be tuneable with environmental noise as a control parameter. The new theory opens a window onto thermodynamic descriptions of swarm behaviours and extends a long-standing analogy with self-gravitating systems.
PACS: 87.23.Ge – Dynamics of social systems / 05.10.Gg – Stochastic analysis methods (Fokker-Planck, Langevin, etc.)
© EPLA, 2018
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