Abrupt (i. e. step) environmental changes, such as natural disasters or the intervention of predators, can alter the internal dynamics of groups with active units, leading to the rapid destruction and/or restructuring of the group, with the emergence of new collective structures that endow the system with adaptability. Few studies, to date, have considered the influence of abrupt environmental changes on emergent behavior. Here, we use a model of active matter, the Belousov-Zhabotinsky (BZ) self-oscillating gel, to study the mechanism of formation and transition between modes of collective locomotion caused by changes of illumination intensity in arrays of interacting photosensitive active units. New forms of collective motion can be generated by step changes of illumination intensity. These transformations arise from the phase resetting and wave-signal regeneration induced by the abrupt parameter variation, while gradual change results in different evolution of collective motion. Our results not only suggest a novel mechanism for emergence, but also imply that new collective behaviors could be accessible via discontinuous parameter changes.
Keywords: BZ self-oscillating gel; active matter; collective motion; parameter adjustment; phase resetting.
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