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Navigating through a noisy world

Prof Kevin Painter ( Interuniversity Department of Regional & Urban Studies and Planning Politecnico di Torino )

In collective navigation a population travels as a group from an origin to a destination. Famous examples include the migrations of birds and whales, between winter and summer grounds, but collective movements also extend down to microorganisms and cell populations. Collective navigation is believed to improve the efficiency of migration, for example through the presence of more knowledgeable individuals that guide naive members ("leader-follower behaviour") or through the averaging out of individual uncertainty ("many wrongs"). In this talk I will describe both individual and continuous approaches for modelling collective navigation. We investigate the point at which group information becomes beneficial to migration and how it can help a population navigate through areas with poor guidance information. We also explore the effectiveness of different modes through which a leader can herd a group of naïve followers. As an application we will consider the impact of noise pollution on the migration of whales through the North Sea.

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