Lack of Synchronization: A Key for Collective Systems Robustness?

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Loners — individuals out of sync with a coordinated majority — occur frequently in nature, from microbial aggregates to locust swarms, from the wildebeest migration to bamboo flowering or cicada emergence. Are loners incidental byproducts of large-scale coordination attempts, or are they part of a mosaic of life-history strategies? I will draw on theoretical modeling and empirical evidence of naturally occurring heritable variation in loner behavior in the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum to propose that imperfect coordination of collective behaviors might be adaptive by enabling diversification of life-history strategies. In particular, for D. discoideum, I will argue that loners are critical to understanding collective and social behaviors, multicellular development, and ecological dynamics.

Corina E. Tarnita, Princeton University
Bowen Hall
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Room 222
Speaker Bio
Corina joined the Princeton faculty in February 2013. Previously she was a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows (2010-2012) and a postdoctoral researcher with the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, Harvard University (2009-2010). She obtained her B.A.('06), M.A.('08) and PhD ('09) in Mathematics from Harvard University. She is an ESA Early Career Fellow, a Kavli Frontiers of Science Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences and an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow. Her work is centered around the emergence of complex behavior out of simple interactions, across spatial and temporal scales.
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