Using field data to test locust migratory band collective movement models. Academic Article uri icon


  • Wingless locust nymphs can form massive migratory groups known as bands, whose coordinated movement results from local interactions. We analysed the spatial distribution of locusts within naturally occurring bands and compared them with computer simulations to infer which interaction rules are used by individuals. We found that the empirical radial distribution of neighbours around a focal individual was isotropic, indicating a tendency for locusts to interact with neighbours all around them, rather than a bias towards pursuing individuals ahead or escaping from the ones following behind. By using maps of neighbour densities and pair correlation functions, we found evidence for a short-range repulsion force, balanced by a clustering force, presumably alignment and/or attraction, at a distance of around 3 cm. These results were similar to those observed when using a 'zonal' self-propelled particles model where repulsion/alignment/attraction forces are delimited by concentric circular zones of set radii. However, the profiles obtained either by using different combinations of forces, limiting the number of neighbours involved in interactions, or by varying the range of some zones, all appeared to produce similar results, thereby limiting the ability to more precisely determine the rules underlying locust interactions.

published proceedings

  • Interface Focus

altmetric score

  • 5.08

author list (cited authors)

  • Buhl, J., Sword, G. A., & Simpson, S. J.

citation count

  • 28

complete list of authors

  • Buhl, J||Sword, Gregory A||Simpson, Stephen J

publication date

  • December 2012