Iain Couzin (Assistant Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University)
Collective organization is everywhere, both around us and within us. Our brains are composed of billions of interconnected cells communicating with chemical and electrical signals. We are integrated in our own collective human society. Elsewhere in the natural world hundreds of thousands of blind army ants coordinate a massive raid across the rainforest floor, a flock of birds arcs and ripples while descending to roost, and a fish school convulses, as if it is a single entity, when attacked by a predator. How can animal groups move in unison? How does individual behavior produce group dynamics? Do animal groups function as a “collective mind”? From locust swarms to bird flocks, from consensus decision-making in fish and among humans, Couzin will discuss how, and why, coordinated collective behavior is so pervasive within the natural world.