All Publications

  • Non-uniform spatial sampling by individuals in midge swarms. Journal of the Royal Society, Interface Feng, Y., Ouellette, N. T. 2023; 20 (199): 20220521


    Individual animals engaged in collective behaviour can interchange their relative positions on a wide range of time scales. In situations where some regions of the group are more desirable, it is thought that more fit individuals will preferentially occupy the more favourable locations. However, this notion is difficult to test for animal groups like insect swarms that fluctuate rapidly and display little apparent structure. Here, we study the way that individuals in mating swarms of the non-biting midge Chironomus riparius sample the space available to them. We use Voronoi tessellation to define different regions of the swarm in a dynamic way, and show that midges indeed sample the swarm non-uniformly. However, individuals that preferentially reside in the interior or exterior of the swarm do not display statistically distinct flight behaviour, suggesting that differences in fitness must be assessed in a different way. Nevertheless, our results indicate that midge swarms are not random configurations of individuals but rather possess non-trivial internal structure.

    View details for DOI 10.1098/rsif.2022.0521

    View details for PubMedID 36722071

  • An equation of state for insect swarms. Scientific reports Sinhuber, M., van der Vaart, K., Feng, Y., Reynolds, A. M., Ouellette, N. T. 2021; 11 (1): 3773


    Collective behaviour in flocks, crowds, and swarms occurs throughout the biological world. Animal groups are generally assumed to be evolutionarily adapted to robustly achieve particular functions, so there is widespread interest in exploiting collective behaviour for bio-inspired engineering. However, this requires understanding the precise properties and function of groups, which remains a challenge. Here, we demonstrate that collective groups can be described in a thermodynamic framework. We define an appropriate set of state variables and extract an equation of state for laboratory midge swarms. We then drive swarms through "thermodynamic" cycles via external stimuli, and show that our equation of state holds throughout. Our findings demonstrate a new way of precisely quantifying the nature of collective groups and provide a cornerstone for potential future engineering design.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41598-021-83303-z

    View details for PubMedID 33580191

  • An Open-Source Python Library for Varying Model Parameters and Automating Concurrent Simulations of the National Water Model JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN WATER RESOURCES ASSOCIATION Raney, A., Maghami, I., Feng, Y., Mandli, K., Cohen, S., Goodall, J. 2021