A Balanced Mixture of Antagonistic Pressures Promotes the Evolution of Parallel Movement

A common hypothesis about the origins of collective behaviour suggests that animals might live and move in groups to increase their chances of surviving predator attacks. This hypothesis is supported by several studies that use computational models to simulate natural evolution. These studies, however, either tune an ad-hoc model to ‘reproduce’ collective behaviour, or concentrate on a single type of predation pressure, or infer the emergence of collective behaviour from an increase in prey density. In nature, prey are often targeted by multiple predator species simultaneously and this might have played a pivotal role in the evolution of collective behaviour. We expand on previous research by using an evolutionary rule-based system to simulate the evolution of prey behaviour when prey are subject to multiple simultaneous predation pressures. We analyse the evolved behaviour via prey density, polarization, and angular momentum. Our results suggest that a mixture of antagonistic external pressures that simultaneously steer prey towards grouping and dispersing might be required for prey individuals to evolve dynamic parallel movement.