The limits of convergence in the collective behavior of competing marine taxa
Burford, Benjamin (2022), The limits of convergence in the collective behavior of competing marine taxa, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.q573n5tm0
Collective behaviors in biological systems, such as coordinated movements, have important ecological and evolutionary consequences. While many studies examine within-species variation in collective behavior, explicit comparisons between functionally similar species from different taxonomic groups are rare. Therefore, a fundamental question remains: how do collective behaviors compare between taxa with morphological and physiological convergence, and how might this relate to functional ecology and niche partitioning? We examined the collective motion of two ecologically similar species from unrelated clades that have competed for pelagic predatory niches for over 500 million years—California market squid, Doryteuthis opalescens (Mollusca) and Pacific sardine, Sardinops sagax (Chordata). We (1) found similarities in how groups of individuals from each species collectively aligned, measured by angular deviation, the difference between individual orientation and average group heading. We also (2) show that conspecific attraction, which we approximated using nearest neighbor distance, was greater in sardine than squid. Finally, we (3) found that individuals of each species explicitly matched the orientation of groupmates, but that these matching responses were less rapid in squid than sardine. Based on these results, we hypothesize that information sharing is a comparably important function of social grouping for both taxa. On the other hand, some capabilities, including hydrodynamically conferred energy savings and defense against predators, could stem from taxon-specific biology.