Schooling individuals discover a novel food source via social learning faster than non-schooling individuals
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Series/Report no.:2016 Spring Undergraduate Research Expo
Novel information, such as the location of a new food source, can be transmitted throughout a group via social learning, as opposed to direct sampling of the environment. When learning is asocial, individuals will encounter a novel food source on their own, with no guidance from others. However, in a social learning environment, individuals will learn of a novel food source by directly observing others. Schooling or flocking behavior, which is often seen in fish and birds, also allows for social learning to occur, due to the close proximity individuals have with one another in their group. The purpose of our model was to determine if a schooling behavior could affect the rate at which a population of individuals learned the location of a novel food source. We used an agent based model, in which agents, or individuals, moved around in an artificial environment and interacted with others in their group. We examined three models: a model where learning was asocial and movement was random, a model where learning was social and individuals schooled, and a model where learning was social and movement was random and compared these models against each other. Results show that individuals learn the location of a new food source at a much faster rate when learning is social and the individuals are schooling together. In schooling populations, information about the new food source was shown to be transferred more quickly from individual to individual when compared to a model where movement was random and learning asocial.
Biological Sciences (The Ohio State University Spring Undergraduate Research Expo)
Academic Major: Zoology
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