Mechanical spectroscopy of insect swarms

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Van der Vaart, K., Sinhuber, M., Reynolds, A. M. and Ouellette, N.T. 2019. Mechanical spectroscopy of insect swarms. Science Advances. 5 (7), p. eaaw9305.

AuthorsVan der Vaart, K., Sinhuber, M., Reynolds, A. M. and Ouellette, N.T.

Social animals routinely form groups, which are thought to display emergent, collective behavior. This hypothesis suggests that animal groups should have properties at the group scale that are not directly linked to the individuals, much as bulk materials have properties distinct from those of their constituent atoms. Materials are often probed by measuring their response to controlled perturbations, but such experiments are difficult to conduct on animal groups, particularly in the wild. Here we show that laboratory midge swarms possess emergent continuum mechanical properties, displaying a collective viscoelastic response to applied oscillatory visual stimuli that allows us to extract storage and loss moduli for the swarm. We find that the swarms strongly damp perturbations, both viscously and inertially. Thus, unlike bird flocks, which appear to use collective behavior to promote lossless information flow through the group, our results suggest that midge swarms use it to stabilize themselves against environmental perturbations.

KeywordsInsect swarms; Flight behaviours; Modelling; Analysis
Year of Publication2019
JournalScience Advances
Journal citation5 (7), p. eaaw9305
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeBBSRC Strategic Programme in Smart Crop Protection
Publisher's version
Copyright license
Accepted author manuscript
Copyright license
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online10 Jul 2019
Publication process dates
Accepted03 Jun 2019
PublisherAmerican Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Permalink -

27 total views
64 total downloads
0 views this month
1 downloads this month
Download files as zip