Fluid forces enhance the performance of an aspirant leader in self-organized living groups

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In this paper, the performance of an individual aiming at guiding a self-organized group is numerically investigated. A collective behavioural model is adopted, accounting for the mutual repulsion, attraction and orientation experienced by the individuals. Moreover, these represent a set of solid particles which are supposed to be immersed in a fictitious viscous fluid. In particular, the lattice Boltzmann and Immersed boundary methods are used to predict the fluid dynamics, whereas the effect of the hydrodynamic forces on particles is accounted for by solving the equation of the solid motion through the time discontinuous Galerkin scheme. Numerical simulations are carried out by involving the individuals in a dichotomous process. On the one hand, an aspirant leader (AL) additional individual is added to the system. AL is forced to move along a prescribed direction which intersects the group. On the other hand, these tend to depart from an obstacle represented by a rotating lamina which is placed in the fluid domain. A numerical campaign is carried out by varying the fluid viscosity and, as a consequence, the hydrodynamic field. Moreover, scenarios characterized by different values of the size of the group are investigated. In order to estimate the AL's performance, a proper parameter is introduced, depending on the number of individuals following AL. Present findings show that the sole collective behavioural equations are insufficient to predict the AL's performance, since the motion is drastically affected by the presence of the surrounding fluid. With respect to the existing literature, the proposed numerical model is enriched by accounting for the presence of the encompassing fluid, thus computing the hydrodynamic forces arising when the individuals move.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere114687
Number of pages18
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2014


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