ECCS '12 Brussels - European Conference on Complex Systems ECCS'12 Complex Systems Society

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Jean-Louis Deneubourg
Unité d'Ecologie Sociale, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium

Jean-Louis Deneubourg is Senior Research Associate at the Belgium National Science Foundation (FNRS) and professor at the Faculty of Sciences of the Université libre de Bruxelles. His research interests include experimental and theoretical approaches to collective behaviour in groups of organisms. One of the main goals of his research is to study the relationship between individual behaviour and the properties of groups such as the relationship between the individual and collective decision making in insects and vertebrates. His research activities are also focused on the interaction between animals and robots and distributed problem solving in social insects.

Diversity of collective decision-making patterns resulting from gregarious behaviour

Group-living animals are often faced with choosing between one or more alternative resource sites. A central question is how a collective decision is taken. This experimental and theoretical review demonstrates that choices can emerge through nonlinear interaction dynamics between equal individuals without perfect knowledge or leadership. We explore a number of situations differing in the number and quality of the options, in the type of interactions, and in the number of individuals concerned. The interplay between individual responses to site characteristics and to group-members can give rise to a diversity of patterns of decision-making. We will focus on how the environmental characteristics influence the collective responses and their diversity in two situations. The first one is the case where the environmental parameters do not affect the behaviour or the interactions between individuals. In second case, we will discuss the case where the environmental parameters affect the individual responses, but not the interactions between individuals. Using choice experiments and a theoretical approach, we will show how individuals in a group dramatically outperform the problem-solving ability of a single individual. Finally, we briefly discuss cases where the social composition influences the collective response. Our research points towards a generic self-organized collective decision-making process shared by many group living-species.