Robin Freeman, R Mann, T Guilford, and D Biro
How social-living animals make collective decisions is currently the subject of intense scientific interest, with increasing focus on the role of individual variation within the group. Previously, we demonstrated that during paired flight in homing pigeons, a fully transitive leadership hierarchy emerges as birds are forced to choose between their own and their partner's habitual routes. This stable hierarchy suggests a role for individual differences mediating leadership decisions within homing pigeon pairs. What these differences are, however, has remained elusive. Using novel quantitative techniques to analyse habitual route structure, we show here that leadership can be predicted from prior route-following fidelity. Birds that are more faithful to their own route when homing alone are more likely to emerge as leaders when homing socially. We discuss how this fidelity may relate to the leadership phenomenon, and propose that leadership may emerge from the interplay between individual route confidence and the dynamics of paired flight.
|Published in||Biology Letters|
|Publisher||The Royal Society|
2010 The Royal Society
Robin Freeman, Ben Dean, Holly Kirk, Kerry Leonard, Richard A Phillips, Chris M Perrins, and Tim Guilford. Predictive ethoinformatics reveals the complex migratory behaviour of a pelagic seabird, the Manx Shearwater, Journal of the Royal Society Interface, Royal Society, March 2013.