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Emergent Spatiotemporal Communication Patterns in Insect Swarms

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MMVW02 - Collective Behaviour

Our world is teeming with diverse organisms that rely on information sharing as a crucial aspect of their survival and reproductive processes. How do organisms solve these communication challenges, using only natural resources? Ideas from physics, mathematics, and computer science, such as energetic cost, compression, and detectability, define universal criteria that almost all communication systems must meet. We use insect swarms as a model system for identifying how organisms harness the dynamics of communication signals, perform spatiotemporal integration of these signals, and propagate those signals to neighboring organisms. In this talk, I will focus on two types of communication in insect swarms: visual communication, in which fireflies communicate over long distances using light signals, and chemical communication, in which bees serve as signal amplifiers to propagate pheromone-based information about the queen’s location. Through a combination of behavioral assays and computational techniques, we develop and test model-driven hypotheses to gain a deeper understanding of these communication processes and contribute to the broader understanding of animal communication.

This talk is part of the Isaac Newton Institute Seminar Series series.

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