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From the coordinated blinking of fireflies to the synchronized movement of flocks of birds or schools of fish and even the exploration pattern of roots in the soil, collective behavior characterizes all domains of biology—animals, plants, fungi, bacteria and viruses.


The University of Georgia Institute of Bioinformatics will present a new State of the Art Symposium on Collective Behavior on March 20. 


Because of concerns about the strain of coronavirus known as COVID-19—on March 11, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic—the meeting will now be a virtual symposium. “Understanding Collective Behavior through Transdisciplinary Efforts” will be streamed at for anyone who wants to watch. Scheduled to begin 9 a.m., the symposium may end at 4:45 p.m. instead of the previously announced time of 4 p.m.


 “Collective behaviors occur on all scales of living systems, including movements of primate troops and bird flocks, the coordinated swarming of bacterial cells and the circadian ticking of molecular clocks. Even viral attacks are carried out as collectives,” said Jonathan Arnold, professor of genetics and organizer of the symposium. “Perhaps ironically, research on collective behaviors is not coordinated. Disparate scientific groups work on these phenomena in many disciplines. 


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