Rapid evolution of coordinated and collective movement in response to artificial selection

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Collective motion occurs when individuals use social interaction rules to respond to the movements and positions of their neighbors. How readily these social decisions are shaped by selection remains unknown. Through artificial selection on fish (guppies, Poecilia reticulata) for increased group polarization, we demonstrate rapid evolution in how individuals use social interaction rules. Within only three generations, groups of polarization-selected females showed a 15% increase in polarization, coupled with increased cohesiveness, compared to fish from control lines. Although lines did not differ in their physical swimming ability or exploratory behavior, polarization-selected fish adopted faster speeds, particularly in social contexts, and showed stronger alignment and attraction responses to multiple neighbors. Our results reveal the social interaction rules that change when collective behavior evolves.


  • Alexander Kotrschal
  • Alexander Szorkovszky
  • James Herbert-Read
  • Natasha I. Bloch
  • Maksym Romenskyy
  • Séverine Denise Buechel
  • Ada Fontrodona Eslava
  • Laura Sánchez Alòs
  • Hongli Zeng
  • Audrey Le Foll
  • Ganaël Braux
  • Kristiaan Pelckmans
  • Judith E. Mank
  • David Sumpter
  • Niclas Kolm
External organisations
  • Stockholm University
  • Wageningen University
  • Uppsala University
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of los Andes, Columbia
  • Imperial College London
  • University of St Andrews
  • University College London
  • University of British Columbia
  • Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommmunications
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Evolutionary Biology
Original languageEnglish
Article numbereaba3148
JournalScience Advances
Issue number49
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Publication categoryResearch