Personal tools
You are here: Home Events SICSA workshop on Computational Ecology

SICSA workshop on Computational Ecology

— filed under:

The objective of this workshop is to bring together SICSA researchers who are currently actively working on, or interested in, developing dynamic models of ecological systems using formal modelling techniques from computer science. The workshop should also be of interest to SICSA researchers who are working on formal modelling techniques and might see this as an opportunity to learn more about potential applications in ecology, and colleagues from other disciplines (ecology, mathematical biology or bio-statistics) who might be intrigued to see what formal computational models have to offer.

  • Upcoming events
When Oct 21, 2015
from 09:00 AM to 05:00 PM
Where IF 4.31/33
Add event to calendar vCal

To book your place, please register here



Speaker and Title
 10:00 Invited talk: David Sumpter, Uppsala University
How mathematical models help us understand ecological and social systems
 10:45 Coffee
 11:15 Computational ecology approaches for understanding and control of canine rabies
Rebecca Mancy and Isty Rysava, University of Glasgow
 11:40 MELA: Modelling in ecology with location attributes
Ludovica Luisa Vissat, University of Edinburgh
 12:05 When data mining brings its force to modelling
Dalila Hamami, University of Stirling
 12:30 Modelling disease in wildlife populations
Glenn Marion, BioSS


Lunch and Poster presentations in MF2

 14:00 Navigating towards sustainable nature-based tourism using qualitative modelling approaches
Francesca Mancini, University of Aberdeen
 14:25 Should females mate multiply to avoid inbreeding? Insights from a computational modelling approach
Brad Duthie, University of Aberdeen
 14:50 The implications of incorporating information-gathering into models of optimal foraging
Yi-Hsiu Chen, University of Glasgow
 15:15 Invited talk: Iain Couzin, MPI and University of Konstanz
Collective sensing and decision-making in Animals Groups:
From Fish Schools to Primate Societies


 Coffee and cake

Invited speakers:

Prof David Sumpter

from Uppsala University 

Title: How mathematical models help us understand ecological and social systems. Swarm SICSA workshop 21Oct2015


Abstract: There are a wide range of ways of building mathematical and computational models of ecological and social systems. I will discuss and compare process algebras, agent-based models, differential equations, stochastic processes, Bayesian models and other models in the context of a wide range of applications.  I will argue that there is no single modelling method that fits all problems, nor is there is there even a single correct model for a particular application. Instead, models should be used in a flexible way that helps answer scientific questions. Modelling should be driven by these questions. I will present a range of case studies, from honey bee colonies, fish schools, human crowds, socio-economic development and football where I have used models to better understand how a system works. The insights gained by the models are usually small, but also useful. This, I believe, is exactly what mathematical and computational modellers should aim to do: to help experts in a research field tighten up there understanding and generate new scientific hypothesis.

Related issues are discussed in this recent article: How to Model Honeybee Colonies 


Biography: David Sumpter

David Sumpter is professor of Applied Mathematics at Uppsala University in Sweden. David’s research has shown how mathematics can be applied to anything and everything, and in particular to social behaviour. An incomplete list of his research projects includes: pigeons flying in pairs over Oxford; clapping undergraduate students in the north of England; swarms of locusts traveling across the Sahara; disease spread in remote Ugandan villages; the gaze following of London commuters; and the tubular structures built by Japanese amoebae.

You can find out more about his research at  collective_behavior_logo_021



Iain D. Couzin

Director, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Department of Collective Behaviour, Konstanz, Germany

Chair of Biodiversity and Collective Behaviour, Department of Biology, University of Konstanz, Germany

Title: Collective Sensing and Decision-Making in Animal Groups: From Fish Schools to Primate Societies

Abstract: Understanding how social influence shapes biological processes is a central challenge in contemporary science, essential for achieving progress in a variety of fields ranging from the organization and evolution of coordinated collective action among cells, or animals, to the dynamics of information exchange in human societies. Using an integrated experimental and theoretical approach I will address how, and why, animals exhibit highly-coordinated collective behavior. A major limitation in the study of large animal groups is that it has not been possible to observe directly the pathways of communication, and social networks are typically based on proxies [1]. I will demonstrate new imaging technology that allows us to reconstruct (automatically) the dynamic, time-varying networks that correspond to the visual cues employed by organisms when making movement decisions. Sensory networks are shown to provide a much more accurate representation of how social influence propagates in groups [2], and their analysis allows us to identify, for any instant in time, the most socially-influential individuals within groups, and to predict the magnitude of complex behavioral cascades at the moment of their initiation, before they actually occur [3]. I will also investigate the coupling between spatial and information dynamics in groups and reveal that emergent problem solving is the predominant mechanism by which mobile groups sense, and respond to complex environmental gradients [4]. This distributed sensing requires rudimentary cognition and is shown to be highly robust to noise. Evolutionary modeling demonstrates such behavior readily evolves within populations of selfish organisms, allowing individuals to compute collectively the spatial distribution of resources and to allocate themselves effectively among distinct, and distant, resource patches, without requiring information about the number, location or size of patches. Finally I will reveal the critical role uninformed individuals (those who have no information about the feature upon which a collective decision is being made) play in fast, and effective, democratic consensus decision-making in collectives [5,6] and will test these predictions with experiments involving schooling fish [6] and wild baboons [7].

1.     Couzin, I.D. (2007) Collective minds. Nature 455, 715.

2.     Strandburg-Peshkin, A., Twomey, C.R., Bode, N.W., Kao, A.B., Katz, Y., Ioannou, C.C., Rosenthal, S.B., Torney, C.J., Wu, H., Levin, S.A. & Couzin, I.D. (2013) Visual sensory networks and effective information transfer in animal groups, Current Biology 23(17), R709-711.

3.     Rosenthal, S.B., Twomey, C.R., Hartnett, A.T., Wu, H.S. & Couzin, I.D. (2015) Revealing the hidden networks of interaction in mobile animal groups allows prediction of complex behavioral contagionPNAS 112(15), 4690-4695.

4.     Berdahl, A., Torney, C.J., Ioannou, C.C., Faria, J. & Couzin, I.D. (2013) Emergent sensing of complex environments by mobile animal groups, Science 339(6119) 574-576.

5.     Couzin, I.D., Krause, J., Franks, N.R. & Levin, S.A. (2005) Effective leadership and decision making in animal groups on the move. Nature 433, 513-516.

6.     Couzin, I.D., Ioannou, C.C., Demirel, G., Gross, T., Torney, C.J., Hartnett, A., Conradt, L., Levin, S.A. & Leonard, N.E. (2011) Uninformed individuals promote democratic consensus in animal groups. Science 334(6062) 1578-1580.

7.     Strandburg-Peshkin, A., Farine, D.R., Couzin, I.D. & Crofoot, M.C. (2015) Shared decision-making drives collective movement in wild baboons. Science 348(6241), 1358-1361





Iain Couzin is Director of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Department of Collective Behaviour, and the Chair of Biodiversity and Collective Behaviour at the University of Konstanz, Germany. Previously he was a Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University, and prior to that a Royal Society University Research Fellow in the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, and a Junior Research Fellow in the Sciences at Balliol College, Oxford. His work aims to reveal the fundamental principles that underlie evolved collective behavior, and consequently his research includes the study of a wide range of biological systems, from insect swarms to fish schools and primate groups. In recognition of his research he has been recipient of the Searle Scholar Award in 2008, top 5 most cited papers of the decade in animal behavior research 1999-2010, the Mohammed Dahleh Award in 2009, Popular Science’s "Brilliant 10” Award in 2010, National Geographic Emerging Explorer Award in 2012 and the Scientific Medal of the Zoological Society of London in 2013.




To book your place, please register here

Sicsa logo
Document Actions