Black-headed gulls synchronise their activity with their nearest neighbours

Madeleine H. R. Evans, Katie L Lihou, Sean Rands*

*Corresponding author for this work

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

2 Citations (Scopus)
267 Downloads (Pure)


Animals in groups can benefit from synchronising their behaviour, where multiple individuals conduct similar activities at the same moment in time. Previous studies have demonstrated that some species show synchronisation of vigilance behaviour, but have not explored the mechanism driving this behaviour. Synchronisation could be driven by animals copying their closest neighbours, which would mean that close proximity should lead to increased synchronisation. We simultaneously observed the behaviour of multiple individual black-headed gulls (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) within resting groups, and compared the activity of a focal individual with its two closest neighbours and a randomly selected control individual. Focal individuals were more likely to be synchronised with their closest neighbour. Synchronisation became less likely if individuals were not the closest neighbour. This suggests that synchronisation seen within groups is dependent upon the spatial positions of its members, and black-headed gulls pay more attention to their closest neighbours.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9978
Number of pages5
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2018


  • Synchronisation
  • group living
  • black-headed gulls
  • social behaviour
  • vigilance
  • Laridae

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