Velocity correlations in laboratory insect swarms

R. Ni, N. T. Ouellette

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3271-3277
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Physical Journal: Special Topics
Issue number17-18
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Velocity correlations in laboratory insect swarms'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this