Swarm formation as backward diffusion

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Reynolds, A. M. and Ouellette, N. T. 2023. Swarm formation as backward diffusion. Physical Biology. 20 (2), p. 026002. https://doi.org/10.1088/1478-3975/acb986

AuthorsReynolds, A. M. and Ouellette, N. T.

Considerable progress has been made in understanding insect swarms – forms of collective animal behaviour that unlike bird flocks, fish schools and animal herds do not possess global order. Nonetheless, little is known about swarm formation. Here we posit a mechanism for the formation of insect swarms that is consistent with recent empirical observations reported by [Patel and Ouellette 2022]. It correctly predicts new features of swarm formation that have not been reported on previously. Our simple analytically tractable model shows how harmonic potential wells, a characteristic feature of swarming, and so swarm cohesion, arise from diffusion and local fission-fusion dynamics and how, in accord with observations, these wells deepen over time. The overall form of these potential wells is predicted to depend on the number and spatial distribution of all individuals, making them manifestly a collective phenomenon. Finally, swarms are predicted to ‘cool’ (that is, condense) as they form.

KeywordsInsect swarms; Swarm formation; Stochastic modelling
Year of Publication2023
JournalPhysical Biology
Journal citation20 (2), p. 026002
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1088/1478-3975/acb986
Open accessPublished as non-open access
FunderBBSRC Industrial Strategy Challenge
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online17 Feb 2023
Publication process dates
Accepted06 Feb 2023
PublisherIOP Publishing Ltd

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