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Data from: Collective behaviour in vertebrates: a sensory perspective

Cite this dataset

Pita, Diana; Collignon, Bertrand; Halloy, José; Fernández-Juricic, Esteban (2016). Data from: Collective behaviour in vertebrates: a sensory perspective [Dataset]. Dryad.


Collective behaviour models can predict behaviours of schools, flocks, and herds. However, in many cases, these models make biologically unrealistic assumptions in terms of the sensory capabilities of the organism, which are applied across different species. We explored how sensitive collective behaviour models are to these sensory assumptions. Specifically, we used parameters reflecting the visual coverage and visual acuity that determine the spatial range over which an individual can detect and interact with conspecifics. Using metric and topological collective behaviour models, we compared the classic sensory parameters, typically used to model birds and fish, with a set of realistic sensory parameters obtained through physiological measurements. Compared with the classic sensory assumptions, the realistic assumptions increased perceptual ranges, which led to fewer groups and larger group sizes in all species, and higher polarity values and slightly shorter neighbour distances in the fish species. Overall, classic visual sensory assumptions are not representative of many species showing collective behaviour and constrain unrealistically their perceptual ranges. More importantly, caution must be exercised when empirically testing the predictions of these models in terms of choosing the model species, making realistic predictions, and interpreting the results.

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