Data and code for: Collective motion diminishes, but variation between groups emerges, through time in fish shoals



Despite extensive interest in the dynamic interactions between individuals that drive collective motion in animal groups, the dynamics of collective motion over longer time frames are understudied. Using three-spined sticklebacks, Gasterosteus aculeatus, randomly assigned to twelve shoals of eight fish, we tested how six key traits of collective motion changed over shorter (within trials) and longer (between days) timescales under controlled laboratory conditions. Over both timescales, groups became less social with reduced cohesion, polarisation, group speed and information transfer. There was consistent inter-group variation (i.e. collective personality variation) for all collective motion parameters, but groups also differed in how their collective motion changed over days in their cohesion, polarisation, group speed and information transfer. This magnified differences between groups, suggesting that over time the ‘typical’ collective motion cannot be easily characterised. Future studies are needed to understand whether such between-group differences in changes over time are adaptive and represent improvements in group performance or are suboptimal but represent a compromise between individuals in their preferences for the characteristics of collective behaviour.
Date made available7 Sept 2021

Cite this