Simple Rules to Move By: Coordinated Movement in Groups of Animals and Teenagers
New research on animal movement is revealing how the amazing coordinated movements of animal groups, such as schools of fish or flocks of birds, are an emergent property of each individual following a few simple decision rules. At our May 3rd Open Minds Teen Science Café, Dr. Roland Kays will review these recent findings, and explain how he is testing some of these results in primates, for the first time, with a new baboon tracking program in Kenya. Then, he will lead us through an exercise to see if we can use flocking behavior like animals to effectively move through space and avoid predation!
About the Speaker
Dr. Roland Kays is the Director of the Museum’s Biodiversity and Earth Observation Research Lab. He is also a Professor in the Fisheries, Wildlife & Conservation Program at NC State University, and a Research Associate at the Smithsonian. Roland is interested in how, where, and why animals move, and his research typically involves bringing the latest technology into the wild parts of the world to discover new things. His work has allowed him to explore tropical rainforests, African savannas, and suburban woodlots. His primary expertise is with mammals, and he has published papers on lions, coyotes, sloths, agoutis, ocelots, and kinkajous. However, he feels that any species can lead to good research if the scientific question is interesting, and he has also worked on toucans, egrets, orchid bees, and even the movement of plant seeds. His field work often involves running around in the woods chasing after animals, and to stay in shape between projects he plays ultimate Frisbee, rides off-road unicycles, and tries to keep up with his two young sons.