Signalling in groups: New tools for the integration of animal communication and collective movement

Vlad Demartsev, Andrew S. Gersick, Frants H. Jensen, Mara Thomas, Marie A. Roch, Marta B. Manser, Ariana Strandburg-Peshkin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Investigations of collective movement and animal communication have often followed distinct, though complementary, trajectories. Both subfields are deeply concerned with how information flows between individuals and shapes subsequent behaviour. Collective movement has largely focused on the dynamics of passive, cue-mediated group coordination, while animal communication has primarily examined the content and function of active dyadic signal exchanges in sender–receiver frameworks. However, in many social groups, network-wide signalling and collective movement decisions are tightly linked. Here we discuss opportunities afforded by using multi-sensor tracking tags to simultaneously monitor the fine-scale movements and vocalisations of entire social groups. We highlight how such data can elucidate the role of vocal signals in individual and collective movement while illuminating the structures of entire vocal-interaction sequences at previously unexamined timescales and across entire communication networks. We identify practical and analytical challenges associated with these new tools and datasets, and present avenues for addressing them. We specifically address issues associated with the deployment and synchronisation of multiple tags, the processing and interpretation of resulting multidimensional datasets, and the benefits of combining tag-based data collection with experimental approaches. Finally, we argue that a comparative approach employing consistent methodologies across a range of environments, populations and systems is needed to shed light on the evolutionary ecology of communication and collective behaviour.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1852-1863
Number of pages12
JournalMethods in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • collective behaviour
  • communication
  • movement
  • social behaviour
  • vocalisations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecological Modeling


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