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Starlings in flight: understanding patterns of animal group movements

Objective

Systems composed of a large number of interacting heterogeneous agents often display complex properties that cannot be deduced in a simple way by studying the behaviour of single agents. This research aims to study three-dimensional complex pattern for mation, in order to get a strong insight into features that may be relevant in more complex situations where the components move in a high dimensional configuration space. Animal group movements look very promising in this respect and we will concentra te our attention on the flocking behaviour of starlings, representing perhaps the best widely known example for the above class of behaviours. We will study the reasons of particular forms of flocking with the aim of understanding the collective movement o f the flock and its form in relation to the behaviour of the individuals of the group. Our goals are the following: a) By getting three-dimensional reconstructions of their movements, we aim to characterize experimentally in a quantitative and qualitative way these movements. We plan to monitor the flock movements in space with the resolution of a single bird, in order to get information on possible leadership of a few birds. Data taken in aviaries will be used for comparison. b) We want to construct new mo dels that give rise to such complex group behaviour. The experimental data should be crucial in inspiring these models and to discriminate possible differences among them. c) We intend to interpret the biological meaning and relevance of the formation of t hese patterns. d) As far as collective movements are common phenomena also in human behaviour (particular relevant in economics) we would like to explore the possibility of exporting the models and the techniques to economic collective choices. In this way we try to develop ways to investigate the reasons of social events, e.g. fashions, to understand socio-economic herding, and possibly to devise methods to tame dangerous excessive market fluctuations.

Call for proposal

FP6-2003-NEST-PATH
See other projects for this call

Coordinator

ISTITUTO NAZIONALE PER LA FISICA DELLA MATERIA
Address
Corso Perrone, 24
Genova
Italy

Participants (6)

COMMISSARIAT A L'ENERGIE ATOMIQUE
France
Address
31-33 Rue De La Federation
Paris
EOTVOS LORAND TUDOMANYEGYETEM
Hungary
Address
Egyetem Ter 1-3
Budapest
ISTITUTO SUPERIORE DI SANITA
Italy
Address
Viale Regina Elena 299
Roma
MAX PLANCK GESELLSCHAFT ZUR FOERDERUNG DER WISSENSCHAFTEN E.V.
Germany
Address
Hofgartenstrasse 8
Muenchen
RIJKSUNIVERSITEIT GRONINGEN
Netherlands
Address
Broerstraat 5
Groningen
SCUOLA NORMALE SUPERIORE
Italy
Address
Piazza Dei Cavalieri, 7
Pisa