Food and paper: Perception, motion and coordination in animal groups (James Herbert-Read)

This week's Food & Paper will be given by James Herbert-Read (Cambridge University) on perception, motion and coordination in animal groups.

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Information is a vital commodity for animals. Gathering information about the location of prey or predators, for example, allows animals to make informed behavioural decisions to improve their survival. However, a variety of individual and environmental factors can affect the ability of animals to gather information from their environment. Indeed, intraspecific variation in the sensory capabilities of individuals will give some individuals better perceptual abilities than others, while different environmental conditions will promote or diminish the ability of individuals to detect information. In this talk, I will discuss the individual behavioural and social adaptations animal use to improve perceptual performance in information gathering tasks. I will show how augmented-reality (AR) environments can be used to test the visual perceptual abilities of freely moving animals, allowing us to explore the relationship between movement and perception, and test how different forms of environmental visual noise interfere with information gathering. I will then discuss how individuals and groups change their movement strategies in noisy conditions, and highlight how these changes to behaviour improve individual and collective performance in information gathering tasks. Overall, the talk will provide insights into the ways animals can adapt their behaviour to improve information gathering, thereby alleviating the constraints imposed on individual perception. 


James Herbert-Read completed his PhD in behavioural ecology at the University of Sydney, Australia. He then spent six years in Sweden working as a postdoc at the Applied Mathematics department at Uppsala University and the Zoology department at Stockholm University. James then worked as a postdoc at the University of Bristol, UK, before taking up his current position as Whitten Lecturer in Marine Biology at the University of Cambridge.



Published Aug. 22, 2022 3:45 PM - Last modified Sep. 7, 2022 5:26 PM