Fryxell, JM; Berdahl, AM

Collective behaviours contributing to patterns of group formation and coordinated movement are common across many ecosystems and taxa. Their ubiquity is presumably due to altering interactions between individuals and their predators, resources and physical environment in ways that enhance individual fitness. On the other hand, fitness costs are also often associated with group formation. Modifications to these interactions have the potential to dramatically impact population-level processes, such as trophic interactions or patterns of space use in relation to abiotic environmental variation. In a wide variety of empirical systems and models, collective behaviour has been shown to enhance access to ephemeral patches of resources, reduce the risk of predation and reduce vulnerability to environmental fluctuation. Evolution of collective behaviour should accordingly depend on the advantages of collective behaviour weighed against the costs experienced at the individual level. As an illustrative case study, we consider the potential trade-offs on Malthusian fitness associated with patterns of group formation and movement by migratory Thomson's gazelles in the Serengeti ecosystem. This article is part of the theme issue 'Collective movement ecology'.