Moving animal groups consist of many distinct individuals but can operate and function as one unit when performing different tasks. Effectively evading unexpected predator attacks is one primary task for many moving groups. The current explanation for predator evasion responses in moving animal groups require the individuals in the groups to interact via (velocity) alignment. However, experiments have shown that some animals do not use alignment. This suggests that another explanation for the predator evasion capacity in at least these species is needed. Here we establish that effective collective predator evasion does not require alignment, it can be induced via attraction and repulsion alone. We also show that speed differences between individuals that have directly observed the predator and those that have not influence evasion success and the speed of the collective evasion process, but are not required to induce the phenomenon. Our work here adds collective predator evasion to a number of phenomena previously thought to require alignment interactions that have recently been shown to emerge from attraction and repulsion alone. Based on our findings we suggest experiments and make predictions that may lead to a deeper understanding of not only collective predator evasion but also collective motion in general.
An Alignment-Free Explanation for Collective Predator Evasion in Moving Animal Groups