An individual based model of fish school reactions: predicting antipredator behaviour as observed in nature
An object-orientated, two-dimensional, cellular automata (CA) model is developed to describe and predict the schooling behaviour of fish in general, with Norwegian spring-spawning herring, Clupea harengus L., being used as a case study. The CA model is applied to visualize internal school dynamics based on individual decision rules. Several antipredator strategies, such as split, join and vacuole, performed by schools during predator attack, are visualized in the model. The primary driving force of individual fish is based on simple attraction rules. The model includes stochastic elements which assume that individual herring do not have perfect information about their surroundings. Isolation of individual fish from a school during predator attack is also predicted by the model. The disruption of highly organized fish schools, followed by an attack on solitary herring individuals, may be an important tactic for predators feeding on schooling prey. The conceptual CA model identifies patterns and mechanisms both within and between schools that may be important in all schooling fish. Model simulations are compared with observed predator–prey interactions between killer whales, Orcinus orca L., and herring in northern Norway.