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Journal of Theoretical Biology 306 (2012) 93-103
Viability of decision-making systems in human and animal groups
Cédric Sueur1, 2

Shared and unshared consensuses are present in both human and animal societies. To date, few studies have applied an evolutionary perspective to the viability of these systems. This study therefore aimed to assess if decision-making allows group members to satisfy all their needs and to survive, decision after decision, day after day. The novelty of this study is the inclusion of multiple decision-making events with varying conditions and the parameterization of the model based on data in macaques, bringing the model closer to ecologically reality. The activity budgets of group members in the model did not differ significantly from those observed in macaques, making the model robust and providing mechanistic insight. Three different decision-making systems were then tested: (1) One single leader, (2) Leading according to needs and (3) Voting process. Results show that when individuals have equal needs, all decision-making systems are viable. However, one single leader cannot impose its decision when the needs of other group members differ too much from its own needs. The leading according to needs system is always viable whatever the group heterogeneity. However, the individual with the highest body mass decides in the majority of cases. Finally, the voting process also appears to be viable, with a majority threshold that differs according to group size and to different individual needs. This study is the first clear prediction of the different types of consensus in animal groups used in various different conditions.
1 :  DEPE-IPHC - Département Ecologie, Physiologie et Ethologie
2 :  Service d'Ecologie Sociale
Sciences de l'environnement

Sciences du Vivant/Biodiversité/Evolution
collective decision – optimality – model – evolution – primates