Skip to content
What's on

Collective animal behaviour through time - POSTPONED

Discussion meeting


The Royal Society, London, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG


This meeting is postponed. More details to follow.

Scientific discussion meeting organised by Dr Christos Ioannou and Dr Kate Laskowski.

Collective vigilance: monkeys from a range of ages collectively gathering visual and social information. Copyright: Lauren Brent

Great strides have been made in understanding the mechanisms underlying collective behaviour in animals using the complex systems approach common in the physical sciences. This work however focuses on snapshots of collective behaviour. The goal of this meeting is to integrate the study of collective behaviour over time: how does it develop and how does it evolve?

Speaker abstracts will be available closer to the meeting. Recorded audio of the presentations will be available on this page after the meeting has taken place. 

Attending the event

This meeting is postponed. More details to follow. 

Enquiries: contact the Scientific Programmes team.


Event organisers

Select an organiser for more information

Schedule of talks

18 May


Session 1

4 talks Show detail Hide detail


Dr Kate Laskowski, The University of California, Davis, USA

09:00-09:05 Welcome by the Royal Society and lead organiser

09:05-09:35 Development of collective behaviour in zebrafish

Dr Gonzalo de Polavieja, Champalimaud Foundation, Portugal

Show speakers

09:35-09:45 Discussion

09:45-10:15 TBC

Dr Kate Laskowski, The University of California, Davis, USA

Show speakers

10:15-10:25 Discussion

10:25-10:50 Coffee

10:50-11:20 Ageing in a social context

Dr Lauren Brent, University of Exeter, UK

Show speakers

11:20-11:30 Discussion

11:30-12:00 Early behavioural plasticity in slime molds

Dr Audrey Dussutour, CNRS, France

Show speakers

12:00-12:10 Discussion

12:10-13:10 Lunch


Session 2

5 talks Show detail Hide detail


Dr Lauren Brent, University of Exeter, UK

13:10-13:40 Ontogenesis of the self-assembling swarm: building and maintaining collective function in a variable world

Dr Simon Garnier, New Jersey Institute of Technology, USA

Show speakers

13:40-13:50 Discussion

13:50-14:20 Developmental stress and the collective

Dr Damien Farine, University of Konstanz and Max Planck Institute of Ornithology, Germany

Show speakers

14:20-14:30 Discussion

14:30-14:55 Tea

14:55-15:25 Social network structure and social selection depend on nutritional environment in Drosophila

Dr Julia Saltz, Rice University, USA

Show speakers

15:25-15:35 Discussion

15:35-16:05 Emergence and repeatability of leadership and coordinated motion in stickleback fish (Gasterosteus aculeatus) shoals

Dr Andrew King, Swansea University, UK


Studies of self-organising groups like schools of fish or flocks of birds has sought to uncover the behavioural rules individuals use (local-level interactions) to coordinate their motion (global-level patterns). However, empirical studies tend to focus on ‘one-off’ events and study groups that are in a ‘coordinated’ behavioural state. As a result we have a poor understanding of if and how behavioural rules develop and/or are maintained in groups. This talk will review evidence for emergence and repeatability of coordinated motion and present a case study with shoals of stickleback fish (Gasterosteus aculeatus). Shoals were introduced to a simple environment, and their position recorded from video using a bespoke tracking algorithm. At the start of trials shoals were uncoordinated in their motion and quickly transitioned to a coordinated state with defined individual leader-follower roles. These leader-follower identities were found to be repeatable across two trials, and the onset of coordination was quicker during the second trial. The emergence and repeatability of coordinated motion in stickleback fish shoals described likely benefits wild individuals living in a system with high fission-fusion dynamics and non-random patterns of association between subsets of individuals.

Show speakers

16:05-16:15 Discussion

16:15-16:30 Discussion/Overview (future directions)


Poster session

19 May


Session 3

4 talks Show detail Hide detail


Dr Andrew King, Swansea University, UK

09:00-09:30 The wisdom of flocks: from collective intelligence to cultural evolution

Dr Dora Biro, University of Oxford, UK and University of Rochester, USA

Show speakers

09:30-09:40 Discussion

09:40-10:10 Revealing universal principles of decision-making in neural and animal collectives

Professor Iain Couzin, Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, Germany

Show speakers

10:10-10:20 Discussion

10:20-10:45 Coffee

10:45-11:15 The evolution and emergence of inter-group cooperative behaviour

Dr Elva Robinson, University of York, UK

Show speakers

11:15-11:25 Discussion

11:25-11:55 Selection for individually optimal decision making can lead to optimal group decisions or to information cascades

Professor James Marshall, University of Sheffield, UK

Show speakers

11:55-12:05 Discussion

12:05-13:05 Lunch


Session 4

5 talks Show detail Hide detail


Dr Christos Ioannou, University of Bristol, UK

13:05-13:35 Stochastic assortment and the evolution of costly traits in animal groups

Dr Vishwesha Guttal, Indian Institute of Science, India

Show speakers

13:35-13:45 Discussion

13:45-14:15 The adaptive benefits of collective antipredator behaviour

Professor Jens Krause, Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Germany

Show speakers

14:15-14:25 Discussion

14:25-14:50 Tea

14:50-15:20 A comparative perspective on collective behaviour

Dr Stephen Montgomery, University of Bristol, UK

Show speakers

15:20-15:30 Discussion

15:30-16:00 Transitions in collective behaviour across the major transition to superorganismality

Dr Seirian Summer, University College London, UK

Show speakers

16:00-16:10 Discussion

16:10-17:00 Panel discussion/Overview (future directions)

Collective animal behaviour through time - POSTPONED

18 - 19 May 2020

The Royal Society, London 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK
Was this page useful?
Thank you for your feedback
Thank you for your feedback. Please help us improve this page by taking our short survey.