For moving animals, the successful avoidance of hazardous obstacles is an important capability. Despite this, few models of collective motion have addressed the relationship between behavioural and social features and obstacle avoidance. We develop an asynchronous individual-based model for social movement which allows social structure within groups to be included. We assess the dynamics of group navigation and resulting collision risk in the context of information transfer through the system. In agreement with previous work, we find that group size has a nonlinear effect on collision risk. We implement examples of possible network structures to explore the impact social preferences have on collision risk. We show that any social heterogeneity induces greater obstacle avoidance with further improvements corresponding to groups containing fewer influential individuals. The model provides a platform for both further theoretical investigation and practical application. In particular, we argue that the role of social structures within bird flocks may have an important role to play in assessing the risk of collisions with wind turbines, but that new methods of data analysis are needed to identify these social structures.
Obstacle Avoidance in Social Groups: New Insights from Asynchronous Models
Croft, S.; Budgey, R.; Pitchford, J.; Wood, A. (2015). Obstacle Avoidance in Social Groups: New Insights from Asynchronous Models. Interface, 12(106).