Behavioural synchrony between fallow deer Dama dama is related to spatial proximity

Zoe Hoyle, Rosie Miller, Sean A Rands*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Animals living in social groups can benefit from conducting the same behaviour as other group members. If this synchronisation is achieved by copying the behaviour of other individuals, we would expect synchrony to be more likely when pairs of individuals are close together.


By comparing the behaviour of a focal individual with its nearest, second nearest and third nearest neighbour and a control individual, we show that pairings of fallow deer Dama dama are more likely to be active or inactive at the same moment in time if they are closer together. We also demonstrate that synchronisation in the group happens more often than would be expected by chance.


Our findings suggest that there is a relationship between the synchronisation of behaviour and the spatial proximity of individuals. Spatial proximity is likely to be an important influence on how likely individuals are to be synchronised, although care needs to be taken to separate social and environmental influences on individual behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Article number79
Number of pages8
JournalBMC Ecology and Evolution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2021


  • Behavioural synchrony
  • Group living
  • Copying
  • Active behaviour


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