The study of group behavior in animals emerging from social interactions among individuals using agent based models has gained momentum in recent years. Although most of the individuals in a group of the treehopper Umbonia crassicornis do not have information about where the predator is, the signaling behavior of the group yields an emergent pattern that provides the defending adult with information about predator presence and location. Offspring signal synchronously to warn a defending parent of a predator attack. We develop a computational model of rapid signaler-receiver interactions in this group-living insect. We test the emergence of informative global patterns by providing interacting juvenile nymphs with limited locally available information with this agent based model. Known parameters such as size of the aggregation and spatial distribution are estimated from experimental recordings. Further, the model investigates the behavioral rules underlying group signaling patterns that reveal the predator’s location. We also show how variation in these behavioral rules can bring about variation in group signals, demonstrating the potential for natural selection to shape these rules.

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