Much is said about why fish group together in schools. But there is little direct evidence for why that happens. Now, with the help of a video game, researchers know at least one reason why schooling is a good idea. I wrote about this in The Economist's Babbage blog.Ioannou CC, Guttal V, & Couzin ID (2012). Predatory Fish Select for Coordinated Collective Motion in Virtual Prey. Science PMID: 22903520
Testing the theory requires manipulating the behaviour of real fish—trickier even than herding cats. Now, though, Christos Ioannou, from Bristol University, may have found a way around it. As the researchers report in Science, he and his colleagues have developed a video game for piscine predator to play. They put their gamer, a hungry bluegill sunfish, into a tank and projected computer-generated prey on one of its walls... read more.Dr Ioannou worked with Iain Couzin, an evolutionary biologist at Princeton University, who has been working for quite sometime on understanding collective animal behaviour. He speaks about his other work here and here. From the likes of it, it seems there is much we need to learn from animals.