TY - JOUR

T1 - Scale-free correlations, influential neighbours and speed control in flocks of birds

AU - Hemelrijk, Charlotte K.

AU - Hildenbrandt, Hanno

PY - 2015/2

Y1 - 2015/2

N2 - Coordination of birds in large flocks is amazing, especially, since individual birds only interact with a few neighbors (the so-called 'influential neighbours'). Yet, empirical data show that fluctuations of velocity and speed of different birds are correlated beyond the influential neighbours and are correlated over a larger distance in a larger flock. This correlation between the correlation length of velocity or speed and flock size was found to be linear, called a scale-free correlation. It depends on the way individuals interact in the flock, for instance, on the number of influential neighbours and speed control. It is unknown however, how exactly the number of influential neighbours affects this scale-free correlation. Recent empirical data show that different degrees of control of speed affect the scale-free correlation for speed fluctuations. Theoretically, based on statistical mechanics, it is predicted that at very high speed control, the correlation is no longer scale-free but saturates at a certain correlation length and this hampers coordination in flocks. We study these issues in a model, called StarDisplay, because its behavioural rules are biologically inspired and many of its flocking patterns resemble empirical data. Our results show that the correlation length of fluctuations of velocity as well as speed correlate with flock size in a scale-free manner. A higher number of influential neighbours causes a diminishing increase of the slope of the scale-free correlation with velocity, resulting thus in flocks that coordinate more uniformly. Similar to recent empirical data higher speed control reduces the correlation length of speed fluctuations in our model. As predicted theoretically, at very high speed control the model generates a non-scale free correlation, and although there are still flocks, they are in the process of disintegrating.

AB - Coordination of birds in large flocks is amazing, especially, since individual birds only interact with a few neighbors (the so-called 'influential neighbours'). Yet, empirical data show that fluctuations of velocity and speed of different birds are correlated beyond the influential neighbours and are correlated over a larger distance in a larger flock. This correlation between the correlation length of velocity or speed and flock size was found to be linear, called a scale-free correlation. It depends on the way individuals interact in the flock, for instance, on the number of influential neighbours and speed control. It is unknown however, how exactly the number of influential neighbours affects this scale-free correlation. Recent empirical data show that different degrees of control of speed affect the scale-free correlation for speed fluctuations. Theoretically, based on statistical mechanics, it is predicted that at very high speed control, the correlation is no longer scale-free but saturates at a certain correlation length and this hampers coordination in flocks. We study these issues in a model, called StarDisplay, because its behavioural rules are biologically inspired and many of its flocking patterns resemble empirical data. Our results show that the correlation length of fluctuations of velocity as well as speed correlate with flock size in a scale-free manner. A higher number of influential neighbours causes a diminishing increase of the slope of the scale-free correlation with velocity, resulting thus in flocks that coordinate more uniformly. Similar to recent empirical data higher speed control reduces the correlation length of speed fluctuations in our model. As predicted theoretically, at very high speed control the model generates a non-scale free correlation, and although there are still flocks, they are in the process of disintegrating.

KW - Flocks of birds

KW - Self-organization

KW - Number of influential neighbours

KW - Spatial dynamics

KW - Scale-free correlation

KW - Speed control

KW - Information transmission

KW - STARLINGS STURNUS-VULGARIS

KW - FISH SCHOOLS

KW - COLLECTIVE BEHAVIOR

KW - SELF-ORGANIZATION

KW - MODEL

KW - SIZE

KW - INDIVIDUALS

KW - SIMULATION

KW - PREDATION

KW - DENSITY

U2 - 10.1007/s10955-014-1154-0

DO - 10.1007/s10955-014-1154-0

M3 - Article

VL - 158

SP - 563

EP - 578

JO - Journal of Statistical Physics

JF - Journal of Statistical Physics

SN - 0022-4715

IS - 3

ER -