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.
Johnston, S. T., & Painter, K. J. (2019). The impact of short- and long-range perception on population movements. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 460, 227-242. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtbi.2018.10.031