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The Kid Should See This

Secrets of Schooling: Investigating the collective behavior of fish

Collective behavior is embodied in swarms of insects, flocks of birds, herds of antelope, and schools of fish. In each of these cases, individuals move through their environment and respond to threats and opportunities almost simultaneously, forming an undulating enclave that seems to operate as a single entity. Such coordinated movement requires the rapid and efficient transfer of information among individuals, but understanding exactly how this information spreads through the group has long eluded scientists.

How can so many individual creatures seemingly move as one? BioGraphic and Spine Films present Secrets of Schooling, a look at the work of Iain Couzin and his interdisciplinary team of collective behavior researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Germany. They’re investigating fish swarms by countering the challenges of animal speed, undetermined communication cues, and underwater environments with technology: high-speed video, motion-tracking software, statistical models, and more.

We love swarms, including these videos of starlings, sheep, reindeer, locusts, bats, sardines and anchoveta.

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