authorMáté Nagy, Zsuzsa Ákos, Dora Biro and Tamás Vicsek
year2010
titleHierarchical group dynamics in pigeon flocks
journalNature
volume464
number7290
pages890--893
publisherNature Publishing Group
selectedtrue
doi10.1038/nature08891
project_groupleadership_and_social_dynamics_in_animal_collectives
projecthierarchy_in_pigeon_flocks
issn1476-4687
monthApril
url[url]
keywordsbiology
abstract
Animals that travel together in groups display a variety of fascinating motion patterns thought to be the result of delicate local interactions among group members. Although the most informative way of investigating and interpreting collective movement phenomena would be afforded by the collection of high-resolution spatiotemporal data from moving individuals, such data are scarce and are virtually non-existent for long-distance group motion within a natural setting because of the associated technological difficulties. Here we present results of experiments in which track logs of homing pigeons flying in flocks of up to 10 individuals have been obtained by high-resolution lightweight GPS devices and analysed using a variety of correlation functions inspired by approaches common in statistical physics. We find a well-defined hierarchy among flock members from data concerning leading roles in pairwise interactions, defined on the basis of characteristic delay times between birds' directional choices. The average spatial position of a pigeon within the flock strongly correlates with its place in the hierarchy, and birds respond more quickly to conspecifics perceived primarily through the left eye - both results revealing differential roles for birds that assume different positions with respect to flock-mates. From an evolutionary perspective, our results suggest that hierarchical organization of group flight may be more efficient than an egalitarian one, at least for those flock sizes that permit regular pairwise interactions among group members, during which leader-follower relationships are consistently manifested.

BibTex record:

@article{pigeonflocks_nature,
author = {Máté Nagy and Zsuzsa Ákos and Dora Biro and Tamás Vicsek},
year = {2010},
title = {Hierarchical group dynamics in pigeon flocks},
journal = {Nature},
volume = {464},
number = {7290},
pages = {890--893},
publisher = {Nature Publishing Group},
selected = {true},
doi = {10.1038/nature08891},
project_group = {leadership_and_social_dynamics_in_animal_collectives},
project = {hierarchy_in_pigeon_flocks},
issn = {1476-4687},
month = {April},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature08891},
keywords = {biology},
abstract = {Animals that travel together in groups display a variety of fascinating motion patterns thought to
be the result of delicate local interactions among group members. Although the most informative way
of investigating and interpreting collective movement phenomena would be afforded by the collection
of high-resolution spatiotemporal data from moving individuals, such data are scarce and are
virtually non-existent for long-distance group motion within a natural setting because of the
associated technological difficulties. Here we present results of experiments in which track logs of
homing pigeons flying in flocks of up to 10 individuals have been obtained by high-resolution
lightweight GPS devices and analysed using a variety of correlation functions inspired by approaches
common in statistical physics. We find a well-defined hierarchy among flock members from data
concerning leading roles in pairwise interactions, defined on the basis of characteristic delay
times between birds' directional choices. The average spatial position of a pigeon within the flock
strongly correlates with its place in the hierarchy, and birds respond more quickly to conspecifics
perceived primarily through the left eye - both results revealing differential roles for birds that
assume different positions with respect to flock-mates. From an evolutionary perspective, our
results suggest that hierarchical organization of group flight may be more efficient than an
egalitarian one, at least for those flock sizes that permit regular pairwise interactions among
group members, during which leader-follower relationships are consistently manifested.},
}