The impact of short- and long-range perception on population movements

Stuart T. Johnston, Kevin J. Painter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


Navigation of cells and organisms is typically achieved by detecting and processing orienteering cues. Occasionally, a cue may be assessed over a much larger range than the individual’s body size, as in visual scanning for landmarks. In this paper we formulate models that account for orientation in response to short- or long-range cue evaluation. Starting from an underlying random walk movement model, where a generic cue is evaluated locally or nonlocally to determine a preferred direction, we state corresponding macroscopic partial differential equations to describe population movements. Under certain approximations, these models reduce to well-known local and nonlocal biological transport equations, including those of Keller–Segel type. We consider a case-study application: “hilltopping” in Lepidoptera and other insects, a phenomenon in which populations accumulate at summits to improve encounter/mating rates. Nonlocal responses are shown to efficiently filter out the natural noisiness (or roughness) of typical landscapes and allow the population to preferentially accumulate at a subset of hilltopping locations, in line with field studies. Moreover, according to the timescale of movement, optimal responses may occur for different perceptual ranges.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-242
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Early online date16 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2019


Dive into the research topics of 'The impact of short- and long-range perception on population movements'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this