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“well-informed leader”

Research shows that migratory birds follow a “well-informed leader” who guides the flock for a smooth flight around obstacles.

A flock of birds swoop across the darkening Visakhapatnam skies. — Photo: K.R. Deepak

Migratory birds are able to avoid collisions with man-made structures by following a well-informed leader who guides the flock for smooth flight, scientists have found.

The study found that the social structure of groups of migratory birds may have a significant effect on their vulnerability to collisions with obstacles, particularly wind turbines and skyscrapers.

The researchers from the University of York in the United Kingdom created a range of computer simulations to explore whether social hierarchies are beneficial to navigation, and how collision risk is affected by environmental conditions and the birds’ desire to maintain an efficient and direct flight path.

Lead author Jamie Wood said: “We wanted to understand how different social behaviour of different species would affect the ability to avoid obstacles, such as wind turbines and farms, and how much disruption these obstacles cause to the group structure.”

Co-author Jon Pitchford added: “We all know that birds naturally migrate in groups. It is less clear whether this is caused by leaders and followers, or by simple democratic rules. Our simulations show that social structure makes an important difference, and that groups with a single well-informed leader are more likely to avoid collisions with wind farms.”

The research is published in the Royal Society journal Interface.

thanks The Hindu: 22.05.2015.



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