23 June 2024
Collective animal movement: Energy secrets revealed

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Understanding Collective Animal Movement

Collective animal movement is a fascinating phenomenon observed in various species, including apex predators like fish. This behavior plays a crucial role in the animal’s ability to navigate complex environments. While the evolutionary factors driving collective movement are multifaceted, researchers have speculated that it could be linked to fundamental drives such as mating, safety, or even energy conservation.

Investigating Energy Efficiency in Fish

In a recent study published in eLife, researchers at Harvard University delved into the energetic secrets of collective animal movement, specifically focusing on how group behavior reduces energy costs in fish. By combining biomechanics and bioenergetics, the team aimed to measure metabolic energy consumption and animal movement simultaneously in a specialized experimental setup.

Fish, as aquatic vertebrates, face unique challenges in optimizing their locomotion due to the viscous nature of water and the lower oxygen availability compared to air. To assess the energy cost of swimming in fish, the researchers designed a sealed water “treadmill” that controlled water velocity, allowing them to measure the rate of oxygen uptake by individual fish and fish schools.

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Collective Movement in Animal Societies

Energy Conservation in Schooling Fish

The study revealed that coordinated group movements in fish led to a significant reduction in energy expenditure compared to individual swimming. Interestingly, the energy cost per biomass was lower for a group of fish moving together, with the most efficient energy consumption observed at a moderate speed of one body length per second. This optimal speed demonstrated a minimum cost of swimming, which increased at both faster and slower speeds, following a J-shaped relationship.

The findings highlighted the importance of understanding collective movement in fish not only for their biological significance but also for addressing challenges posed by changing climates that impact fish biodiversity. By studying the energetics of aquatic locomotion, researchers gain insights into vertebrate physiology, fluid dynamics principles, and animal locomotion mechanisms.

Implications for Conservation and Research

The study’s holistic approach to measuring energy expenditure in fish sheds light on the intricate balance between aerobic and anaerobic energy costs during movement. By capturing the full spectrum of energy expenditure, researchers can better comprehend the underlying mechanisms that drive collective animal movement.

This research not only enhances our understanding of the energy-saving benefits of group behavior in fish but also underscores the importance of considering collective movement in conservation efforts and biological research. By unraveling the secrets of how animals optimize energy use through coordinated movements, scientists can unlock valuable insights into evolutionary strategies and ecological dynamics in the animal kingdom.

Links to additional Resources:

1. www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0960982222000160 2. www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-09874-2 3. www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(22)00016-0

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Collective animal movement, Fish locomotion, Energy efficiency in animals

Animal movement
Animal movement may refer to: Animal locomotion Animal migration Animal rights movement and animal welfare movement collectively Transportation of animals
Read more: Animal movement

Fish locomotion
Fish locomotion is the various types of animal locomotion used by fish, principally by swimming. This is achieved in different groups of fish by a variety of mechanisms of propulsion, most often by wave-like lateral flexions of the fish's body and tail in the water, and in various specialised fish...
Read more: Fish locomotion

Energy efficiency in transport
The energy efficiency in transport is the useful travelled distance, of passengers, goods or any type of load; divided by the total energy put into the transport propulsion means. The energy input might be rendered in several different types depending on the type of propulsion, and normally such energy is...
Read more: Energy efficiency in transport

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