Swarming locusts impossible to predict: Iain Couzin in ScienceNews

Posted by on Jul 24 2010 in MediaNo comment

Journalist Alexandra Witze from ScienceNews published an article on the behavior of locust swarms. This article is based on several studies published by Iain and his collaborators (see our publication page), and precede a future article to appear in Physical Review E (Escudero et al., Physical Review E, in press). Iain along with coauthors Jérôme Buhl and Carlos escudero were interviewed for the ScienceNews article:

Mathematicians have now figured out the dynamics that drive locusts across the landscape, devastating everything underfoot — and the math says people will never be able to predict where the little buggers will go.

The new analysis, reported in an upcoming issue of Physical Review E, suggests that random factors accumulate and influence how swarming locusts collectively decide to change course.

“These swarms are driven by intrinsic dynamics,” says team member Iain Couzin, a biologist at Princeton University. “In all practical terms, predicting when a swarm is going to change direction is going to be impossible.” 

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