Nutrition & collective movement in the Australian plague locust
Investigate the marching, aggregation and the emergence of activity synchronisation in locusts using laboratory and field experiments combined with computer simulations.
This project will focus on further refining and exploring computer simulations of locust groups where up to millions of individuals interact locally and result in the emergence of coordinated mass movement. Previous results have shown that patterns commonly observed in different locust species can be reproduced in our simulations using simple rules such as aligning with nearby neighbours.
During this project, we will explore how the interplay between nutrition and movement rules affect the emergent collective patterns, with the aim of later comparing these predictions to real locusts surveyed in the field using drones.
There may be field trip and lab experiments opportunities.
Students with a strong interest in in programming, computational biology and modelling techniques will be best suited for this project given the key role that computer simulations have in this research.
You will develop skills in:
- Computer simulations (including coding and managing projects on a super computer)
- Nutritional ecology
- Data and image analysis
- Depending on opportunities: behavioural experiments and drone surveys in the field
- Buhl, J., Sumpter, D., Couzin, I., Hale, J., Despland, E., Miller, E., & Simpson, S. (2006). From disorder to order in marching locusts. Science, 312(5778), 1402-1406.
- Buhl, J., Sword, G., & Simpson, S. (2012). Using field data to test locust migratory band collective movement models. Interface Focus, 2(6), 757-763.