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A Sensory-Driven Trade-Off between Coordinated Motion in Social Prey and a Predator's Visual Confusion.
PLoS Computational Biology
Social animals are capable of enhancing their awareness by paying attention to their neighbors, and prey found in groups can also confuse their predators. Both sides of these sensory benefits have long been appreciated, yet less is known of how the perception of events from the perspectives of both prey and predator can interact to influence their encounters. Here we examined how a visual sensory mechanism impacts the collective motion of prey and, subsequently, how their resulting movements influenced predator confusion and capture ability. We presented virtual prey to human players in a targeting game and measured the speed and accuracy with which participants caught designated prey. As prey paid more attention to neighbor movements their collective coordination increased, yet increases in prey coordination were positively associated with increases in the speed and accuracy of attacks. However, while attack speed was unaffected by the initial state of the prey, accuracy dropped significantly if the prey were already organized at the start of the attack, rather than in the process of self-organizing. By repeating attack scenarios and masking the targeted prey's neighbors we were able to visually isolate them and conclusively demonstrate how visual confusion impacted capture ability. Delays in capture caused by decreased coordination amongst the prey depended upon the collection motion of neighboring prey, while it was primarily the motion of the targets themselves that determined capture accuracy. Interestingly, while a complete loss of coordination in the prey (e.g., a flash expansion) caused the greatest delay in capture, such behavior had little effect on capture accuracy. Lastly, while increases in collective coordination in prey enhanced personal risk, traveling in coordinated groups was still better than appearing alone. These findings demonstrate a trade-off between the sensory mechanisms that can enhance the collective properties that emerge in social animals and the individual group member's predation risk during an attack.
Adult, Animals, Computational Biology, Computer Simulation, Confusion, Humans, Models, Biological, Movement/physiology, Predatory Behavior/physiology, Social Behavior
Web of science
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