Adaptive network dynamics and evolution of leadership in collective migration

Darren Pais, Naomi E. Leonard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The evolution of leadership in migratory populations depends not only on costs and benefits of leadership investments but also on the opportunities for individuals to rely on cues from others through social interactions. We derive an analytically tractable adaptive dynamic network model of collective migration with fast timescale migration dynamics and slow timescale adaptive dynamics of individual leadership investment and social interaction. For large populations, our analysis of bifurcations with respect to investment cost explains the observed hysteretic effect associated with recovery of migration in fragmented environments. Further, we show a minimum connectivity threshold above which there is evolutionary branching into leader and follower populations. For small populations, we show how the topology of the underlying social interaction network influences the emergence and location of leaders in the adaptive system. Our model and analysis can be extended to study the dynamics of collective tracking or collective learning more generally. Thus, this work may inform the design of robotic networks where agents use decentralized strategies that balance direct environmental measurements with agent interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-93
Number of pages13
JournalPhysica D: Nonlinear Phenomena
StatePublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Applied Mathematics


  • Adaptive networks
  • Collective migration
  • Evolutionary dynamics
  • Leadership
  • Social networks


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