Recently a new preprint from our lab has been uploaded to arXiv with Pascal Klamser as first author. In this work we put the so-called “criticality hypothesis” to the test, which states that biological collective information processing systems in order to optimize their performance, should operate close to a phase transition, i.e. a critical point representing the border where the collective dynamics undergoes a qualitative change. It has been suggested that animal groups, which can be also viewed as collective information processing systems, should also operate in this special regime. We test this hypothesis in the context of collective predator response using a generic agent-based model. We show that indeed the collective response appears to be optimal at the critical point, but not due to optimal information transfer as predicted by the criticality hypothesis. However, the critical point turns out to b evolutionary highly unstable due to strong spatial self-sorting effects, This shows that individual-level evolutionary adaptation is not a robust mechanism for self-organized criticality.
If you want to learn more, check out the full preprint including SI: Klamser & Romanczuk (2020), arXiv:2009.02079