Collective escape in bird flocks

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

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Flocks of birds exhibit mesmerizing aerial displays when under predation by raptors, but little is known about the variation of these displays, how they relate to each other, and how they depend on the actions of the predator. In this doctoral research the patterns of collective escape of flocks have been studied using an artificial predator, the RobotFalcon, that resembles the peregrine falcon in appearance and behaviour. This thesis also examined whether the RobotFalcon, would provide a novel method of deterring birds from places where they conflict with humans.
This research has shown that the frequency and type of collective escape in bird flocks mainly depends on the level of threat posed by the predator. Patterns of collective escape were also similar among flocks of different species, and resembled those found in schools of fish under predation, suggesting that general rules underly patterns of collective escape in groups under predation. Finally, this thesis shows that the RobotFalcon can be a novel method for studying collective escape in birds as well as serve as an effective tool for deterring flocks, keeping fields clear of birds for hours and without indications of habituation.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Hemelrijk, Charlotte, Supervisor
  • Verhulst, Simon, Supervisor
  • Carere, Claudio, Supervisor
Award date21-Nov-2023
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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