Navigation Links
Revealed: The mystery behind starling flocks
Date:7/18/2014

The mystery behind the movements of flocking starlings could be explained by the areas of light and dark created as they fly, new research suggests.

The research, conducted by the University of Warwick and published in the journal PNAS, found that flocking starlings aim to maintain an optimum density at which they can gather data on their surroundings. This occurs when they can see light through the flock at many angles, a state known as marginal opacity. The subsequent pattern of light and dark, formed as the birds attempt to achieve the necessary density, is what provides vital information to individual birds within the flock.

The dynamic pattern of light and dark is created by birds within the flock altering the positions and angles at which they fly, causing a change in the amount of light let into the flock. The researchers observed that it was always possible to see areas of light coming through the flock, providing the initial insight that the changing patterns of light and dark had a role to play in the flock's movement.

This insight led to the development of a computer model in which individual birds with simulated intelligence were attracted to the areas in the flock that could provide the most information on the rest of the flock . When each simulated bird was attracted to the areas in the virtual flock that can provide the most information the result was a cohesive swarm.

The Warwick team then applied the model's findings to flocks in the wild and established that there was a strong correlation between movements of the virtual and natural birds.

"An individual starling within a flock can see in front of them areas of light and dark created by other birds, forming a dynamic and changing silhouette", says lead researcher Daniel Pearce from the University's Department of Physics. "Our research ascertained that the silhouettes we external observers witness were a result of large flocks self-organising to achieve a marginally opaque state at which a bird can still see some of the light sky through gaps in the flock and gather information from other birds.

"When we observe a flock of starlings we are actually seeing a 2D projection of a dynamic, changing 3D environment. By developing this model we have been able to simulate this environment and see that when each bird is attracted to the areas in the flock that can provide the most information the result is a cohesive swarm that resembles a large flock of starlings in the wild", comments Mr Pearce.

It had previously been thought that co-ordination of a flock was achieved through birds interacting only with neighbouring members but, argues Professor Emeritus and paper co-author George Rowlands, the new research marks "a paradigm shift in our understanding of how birds organise within a flock as it shows that the local interactions between birds are alone insufficient to explain large-scale flock organisation".


'/>"/>

Contact: Tom Frew
A.T.Frew@warwick.ac.uk
44-024-765-75910
University of Warwick
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Kidney stone mystery solved
2. UCLA life scientists unlock mystery of how handedness arises
3. Mystery to the origin of long-lived, skin-deep immune cells uncovered
4. New discovery provides insight on long-standing pregnancy mystery
5. Animal reservoir mystery solved
6. Mystery of elephant infrasounds revealed
7. Geologys Mystery Interval, the Great Deepening, and the largest kill-off in Earth history
8. George Washington University Computational Biology Director solves 200-year-old oceanic mystery
9. Mount Sinai researchers solve mystery surrounding the death of two sisters nearly 50 years ago
10. Rice, MD Anderson scientists probe mystery of operon evolution
11. Scientists unravel the mystery of marine methane oxidation
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Revealed: The mystery behind starling flocks
(Date:4/24/2017)... 2017 Janice Kephart , former ... Strategy Partners, LLP (IdSP) , today issues the ... Trump,s March 6, 2017 Executive Order: Protecting ... can be instilled with greater confidence, enabling the ... refugee applications are suspended by until at least ...
(Date:4/17/2017)... 2017 NXT-ID, Inc. (NASDAQ: NXTD ) ... of its 2016 Annual Report on Form 10-K on Thursday April ... ... in the Investor Relations section of the Company,s website at ... at http://www.sec.gov . 2016 Year Highlights: ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... Fla. , April 11, 2017 ... and secure authentication solutions, today announced that it ... Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) to develop ... Thor program. "Innovation has been a ... IARPA,s Thor program will allow us to innovate ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... Charlotte, N.C. (PRWEB) , ... October 11, 2017 ... ... ARCS® Foundation President Andi Purple announced Dr. Suneel I. Sheikh, the ... Laboratories ( ASTER Labs ), Inc. has been selected for membership in ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... ... Personal eye wash is a basic first aid supply for any work environment, but most ... you rinse first if a dangerous substance enters both eyes? It’s one less decision, and ... unique dual eye piece. , “Whether its dirt and debris, or an acid or alkali, ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... 11, 2017 , ... Proscia Inc ., a data ... titled, “Pathology is going digital. Is your lab ready?” with Dr. Nicolas Cacciabeve, ... and how Proscia improves lab economics and realizes an increase in diagnostic confidence.* ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... LAGUNA HILLS, Calif. , Oct. 11, 2017  SkylineDx ... London (ICR) and University of Leeds ... to risk-stratify patients with multiple myeloma (MM), in a multi-centric ... The University of Leeds is the ... UK, and ICR will perform the testing services to include ...
Breaking Biology Technology: