Collective decision-making appears more egalitarian in populations where group fission costs are higher

J. E. Herbert-Read*, A. S. I. Wade, I. W. Ramnarine, C. C. Ioannou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
98 Downloads (Pure)


Collective decision-making is predicted to be more egalitarian in conditions where the costs of group fission are higher. Here, we ask whether Trinidadian guppies (Poecilia reticulata) living in high or low predation environments, and thereby facing differential group fission costs, make collective decisions in line with this prediction. Using a classic decision-making scenario, we found that fish from high predation environments switched their positions within groups more frequently than fish from low predation environments. Because the relative positions individuals adopt in moving groups can influence their contribution towards group decisions, increased positional switching appears to support the prediction of more evenly distributed decision-making in populations where group fission costs are higher. In an agent-based model, we further identified that more frequent, asynchronous updating of individuals' positions could explain increased positional switching, as was observed in fish from high predation environments. Our results are consistent with theoretical predictions about the structure of collective decision-making and the adaptability of social decision-rules in the face of different environmental contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20190556
Number of pages5
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2019


  • Consensus
  • Coordination
  • Information
  • Poecilia reticulata


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