The European Physical Journal Special Topics

, Volume 224, Issue 17–18, pp 3271–3277 | Cite as

Velocity correlations in laboratory insect swarms

  • R. Ni
  • N.T. OuelletteEmail author
Regular Article Physics of Social Interactions
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Dynamics of Animal Systems


In contrast to animal groups such as bird flocks or migratory herds that display net, directed motion, insect swarms do not possess global order. Without such order, it is difficult to define and characterize the transition to collective behavior in swarms; nevertheless, visual observation of swarms strongly suggests that swarming insects do behave collectively. It has recently been suggested that correlation rather than order is the hallmark of emergent collective behavior. Here, we report measurements of spatial velocity correlation functions in laboratory mating swarms of the non-biting midge Chironomus riparius. Although we find some correlation at short distances, our swarms are in general only weakly correlated, in contrast to what has been observed in field studies. Our results hint at the potentially important role of environmental conditions on collective behavior, and suggest that general indicators of the collective nature of swarming are still needed.


Correlation Function European Physical Journal Special Topic Collective Behavior Coherent Motion Velocity Correlation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© EDP Sciences and Springer 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials ScienceYale UniversityNew Haven, ConnecticutUSA
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical and Nuclear EngineeringThe Pennsylvania State University, University ParkPennsylvaniaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringStanford UniversityStanford, CaliforniaUSA

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