Reference : Methods for the effective study of collective behavior in a radial arm maze
Scientific journals : Article
Life sciences : Zoology
Methods for the effective study of collective behavior in a radial arm maze
Delcourt, Johann mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > Département de Biologie, Ecologie et Evolution > Biologie du comportement - Ethologie et psychologie animale >]
Miller, Noam [Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada > Department of Psychology > > >]
Couzin, Iain [University of Konstanz, Konstanz, Germany > Department of Collective Behaviour, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and Department of Biology > > >]
Garnier, Simon [New Jersey Institute of Technology, USA > Department of Biological Sciences > > >]
Behavior Research Methods
Yes (verified by ORBi)
[en] collective behavior ; collective decision-making ; group cohesion ; fission-fusion societies ; radial maze ; radial arm maze ; golden shiner ; collective behaviour ; social behaviour ; schools ; shoals ; majority transition ; Notemigonus crysoleucas ; cohesion index ; automated image processing ; automated counting system ; package R projectRadial ; projectradial ; blob analysis ; occlusion image ; videotracking ; stereotypic behaviour ; exploratory behaviour ; partition law ; partition number ; fish behaviour ; social fish
[en] Collective behaviors are observed throughout nature, from bacterial colonies to human societies. Important theoretical breakthroughs have recently been made in understanding why animals produce group behaviors and how they coordinate their activities, build collective structures, and make decisions. However, standardized experimental methods to test these findings are lacking. Notably, easily and unambiguously determining the membership of a group and the responses of an individual within that group is still a challenge.
The radial arm maze is presented here as a new standardized method to investigate collective exploration and decision-making in animal groups. This paradigm gives individuals within animal groups the opportunity to make choices among a set of discrete alternatives, and these choices can be easily tracked over long periods of time.
We demonstrate the usefulness of this paradigm by performing a set of refuge-site selection experiments with groups of fish. Using an open-source, robust custom image processing algorithm, we automatically count the number of animals in each arm of the maze to identify the majority choice. We also propose a new index to quantify the degree of group cohesion in this context.
The radial arm maze paradigm provides an easy way to categorize and quantify the choices made by the animals. It makes it possible to readily apply the traditional uses of the radial arm maze with single animals to the study of animal groups. Moreover, it opens up the possibility of studying questions specifically related to collective behaviors.
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