Explaining how individual behavior and social interactions give rise to group-level outcomes and affect issues such as leadership is fundamental to the understanding of collective behavior. Here we examined individual and collective behavioral dynamics in groups of humbug damselfish both before and during a collective movement. During the predeparture phase, group activity increased until the collective movement occurred. Although such movements were precipitated by one individual, the success or failure of any attempt to instigate a collective movement was not solely dependent on this initiator's behavior but on the behavior of the group as a whole. Specifically, groups were more active and less cohesive before a successful initiation attempt than before a failed attempt. Individuals who made the most attempts to initiate a collective movement during each trial were ultimately most likely to lead the collective movement. Leadership was not related to dominance but was consistent between trials. The probability of fish recruiting to a group movement initiative was an approximately linear function of the number of fish already recruited. Overall, these results are consistent with nonselective local mimetism, with the decision to leave based on a group's, rather than any particular individual's, readiness to leave.
Ward, A. J. W., Herbert-Read, J. E., Jordan, L. A., James, R., Krause, J., Ma, Q., Rubenstein, D. I., Sumpter, D. J. T., & Morrell, L. J. (2013). Initiators, leaders, and recruitment mechanisms in the collective movements of damselfish. American Naturalist, 181(6), 748-760. https://doi.org/10.1086/670242