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Data from: Distinguishing social from nonsocial navigation in moving animal groups


Bode, Nikolai W. F. et al. (2012), Data from: Distinguishing social from nonsocial navigation in moving animal groups, Dryad, Dataset,


Many animals, such as migrating shoals of fish, navigate in groups. Knowing the mechanisms involved in animal navigation is important when it comes to explaining navigation accuracy, dispersal patterns, population and evolutionary dynamics and consequently the design of conservation strategies. When navigating towards a common target, animals could interact socially by sharing available information directly or indirectly, or each individual could navigate by itself and aggregations may not disperse because all animals are moving towards the same target. Here, we present an analysis technique that uses individual movement trajectories to determine the extent to which individuals in navigating groups interact socially, given knowledge of their target. The basic idea of our approach is that the movement direction of individuals arises from a combination of responses to the environment and to other individuals. We estimate the relative importance of these responses, distinguishing between social and non-social interactions. We develop and test our method using simulated groups and demonstrate its applicability to empirical data in a case study on groups of guppies moving towards shelter in a tank. Our approach is generic and can be extended to different scenarios of animal group movement.

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