Animals making a group sometimes approach and sometimes avoid a dense area of group mates, and that reveals the ambiguity of density preference. Although the ambiguity is not expressed by a simple deterministic local rule, it seems to be implemented by probabilistic inference that is based on Bayesian and inverse Bayesian inference. In particular, the inverse Bayesian process refers to perpetual changing of hypotheses. We here analyse a time series of swarming soldier crabs and show that they are employed to Bayesian and inverse Bayesian inference. Comparing simulation results with data of the real swarm, we show that the interpretation of the movement of soldier crabs which can be based on the inference can lead to the identification of a drastic phase shift-like transition of gathering and dispersing.
This article is part of the theme issue ‘Dissipative structures in matter out of equilibrium: from chemistry, photonics and biology (part 2)’.

]]>