Red deer synchronise their activity with close neighbours

Sean A Rands, Hayley Muir, Naomi L Terry

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

12 Citations (Scopus)
401 Downloads (Pure)


Models of collective animal behaviour frequently make assumptions about
the effects of neighbours on the behaviour of focal individuals, but
these assumptions are rarely tested. One such set of assumptions is that
the switch between active and inactive behaviour seen in herding
animals is influenced by the activity of close neighbours, where
neighbouring animals show a higher degree of behavioural synchrony than
would be expected by chance. We tested this assumption by observing the
simultaneous behaviour of paired individuals within a herd of red deer Cervus elaphus. Focal individuals were more synchronised with their two closest
neighbours than with the third closest or randomly selected individuals
from the herd. Our results suggest that the behaviour of individual deer
is influenced by immediate neighbours. Even if we assume that there are
no social relationships between individuals, this suggests that the
assumptions made in models about the influence of neighbours may be

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere344
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2014


  • Synchrony
  • Neighbours
  • Collective behaviour
  • Modelling
  • Social networks


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