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.
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
Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs
16.01.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
Cholera bacteria infect more effectively with a simple twist of shape
13.01.2017 | Princeton University
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration
"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...
Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.
Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
16.01.2017 | Information Technology
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering