Dejan Sarman,

In an SFI Community Lecture June 29 in Santa Fe titled “From democratic consensus to cannibalistic hordes: The principles of collective animal behavior,” Iain Couzin, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University, described how individual behavior produces group dynamics.

Watch the lecture (72 minutes)

Collective organization is everywhere, both around us and within us. In the brain, millions of interconnected cells produce coordinated action, and thought, through chemical and electrical signals. Hundreds of thousands of blind army ants coordinate a massive raid across the rainforest floor. A fish school convulses, as if it is a single entity, when attacked by a predator.

How can animal groups move in unison? Do they function as a “collective mind”?

From locust swarms to bird flocks, from cells to human societies, Couzin described how, and why, individual behavior produces group dynamics.

Generous support for this lecture was provided by Los Alamos National Bank, and by the Allene and Jerome Lapides Foundation in honor of the Santa Fe Animal Shelter.

Watch the lecture (72 minutes)