Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Primate behaviour explained by computer ‘agents’

11.09.2007
The complex behaviour of primates can be understood using artificially-intelligent computer ‘agents’ that mimic their actions, shows new research published in a special edition of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B and presented at the BA Festival of Science in York.

Scientists using agents programmed with simple instructions to work out why some primate groups are ‘despotic’ whilst others are ‘egalitarian’ - overturning previous theories developed by primatologists.

They have also found support for an existing theory of how dominant macaques make it to the safer positions at the middle of their troop without seeming to be pre-occupied with getting there.

Using agents programmed with two rules – stay in a group for safety and pester subordinates until they move away – scientists found that their more dominant agents would make their way to the centre of the group.

... more about:
»Bryson »Theory »despotic »dominant »egalitarian

This desire to stay in a group and pick on subordinates could be an evolutionary mechanism that helps protect the more dominant and successful individuals in a group, they suggest.

“This kind of agent-based modelling is really a new way of doing science,” said Dr Joanna Bryson from the University of Bath who led the study and is one of the editors of the Philosophical Transactions special edition.

“Previously scientists have been limited to trying to understand animal behaviour by making observations and then developing theories that fit.

“Now we can test these theories using agents to give us a better understanding of complex behaviours.

“This work shows that agent models are an ordinary part of scientific theory building. We confirmed and extended previous work on spatial location of dominant animals, while showing where some theories got it wrong – in this case a theory put forward for why macaques form either despotic or egalitarian troops.”

Whilst there is no hierarchical structure in egalitarian groups there tends to be more fighting, although it is less violent, than in despotic groups.

Primatologists noticed that egalitarian groups tend to spend more time preening and hugging each other after fighting, leading them to speculate that the two different types of society evolved following the development of some groups’ ability to ‘reconcile’.

“Agent-based modelling techniques let us invent and remove behaviours to test the explanations of what we see in nature,” said Dr Bryson, from the University’s Department of Computer Science.

“Using modelling you can vary the external environmental factors to see if they have any effect on behaviour. You can do this for many generations in a few hours and see whether new behaviour is adaptive.”

More recent work by Dr Bryson and graduate student Hagen Lehmann has shown a new explanation for the theory they had previously overturned.

“By changing the amount of space between troop members, you can create models of despotic and egalitarian groups of agents,” said Dr Bryson.

“Then you can show that the despotic agents do better in the conditions we find despotic macaques in the wild. The same holds for egalitarian macaques

“The violence and lack of reconciliation in despotic groups comes down to the fact that they don’t like living on top of each other.

“This creates more space for the troop so they can find more food.

“But by hugging and making up after fights, the egalitarians spend more time close to each other. This makes them safer in environments where there are predators.

“This is a simple explanation for what we see in the wild, and it explains why some groups have a different range of behaviours than another.”

Andrew McLaughlin | alfa
Further information:
http://www.bath.ac.uk/pr/releases

Further reports about: Bryson Theory despotic dominant egalitarian

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersensitive through quantum entanglement

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy under real ambient pressure conditions

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Mice provide insight into genetics of autism spectrum disorders

28.06.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>