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HOW OFTEN DO ANIMALS LIE ABOUT THEIR INTENTIONS?
An article by Princeton Biologist Mark Laidre suggests that when an animal signals an intent to attack, chances are it's not bluffing. Using hermit crabs as subjects, Laidre tested previous mathematical models that predict animals have a significant incentive to give dishonest signals about their intentions. Some models suggest that animals may lie about their intentions up to 40 percent of the time. Laidre used dummy hermit crabs to invade the personal space of live crabs. Contrary to the models, the crabs nearly always backed up their threats with an attack. Those that didn't signal a threat nearly always fled. The findings, Lairde says, suggest that animals don't lie about their actions nearly as much as theorists once predicted.
Mark E. Laidre, "How Often Do Animals Lie About Their Intentions? An Experimental Test," 173:March.
POWER TO THE HUNGRY: HOW THE NEEDIEST CAN LEAD LARGE GROUPS
Flocks of birds, swarms of insects and herds of ungulates don't need to take a vote to choose their leaders. According to research led by Larissa Conradt (University of Sussex), leaders in large animal groups can emerge automatically. Conradt and her colleagues created a theoretical model that simulates the movements of a large group in which members have conflicting plans about where they'd like to go. The simulation showed that individuals who valued their preferred destination over group cohesion often led the groupeven if they were in the minority. Those who were less concerned about the destination went along for ride just to stay with the group. "As a consequence," Conradt says, "large groups are often automatically led by those members that are most desperate to reach a particular destination, or are most
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