Title: Collective Behavior in Locust Swarms from Data to Differential Equations
Prof. Jasper Weinburd
Department of Mathematics
Harvey Mudd College
Abstract: Locusts are devastating pests that infest and destroy crops. Locusts forage and migrate in large swarms which exhibit distinctive shapes that improve efficiency on the group level, a phenomenon known as collective behavior. One of the difficulties in understanding and preventing these collective behaviors has been a lack of biological data for individual interactions between locusts. In this talk, I’ll first describe mathematical models for these phenomena on both the collective and individual levels. I’ll then discuss a collaboration with students at Harvey Mudd College using field data derived from video footage of locust swarms. We digitized nearly 20,000 locust trajectories and revealed individual behaviors that depend on a locust’s motion and the relative position of its nearby neighbors. Finally, I will illustrate the challenges and potential benefits of incorporating these field observations into our models of locust swarms.
Prof. Jasper Weinburd is an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvey Mudd College. He received his PhD from the University of Minnesota. In his research he uses dynamical systems, differential equations, and data science to model natural phenomena of self-organization. He loves hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains with his dog, but he still hasn’t climbed Mt. Baldy.