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A new study has revealed how vultures use their very own social networks to work out the best way to use thermal updrafts to help them fly vast distances.
The research, carried out by a team from Swansea University led by Ph.D. student Hannah Williams, examined how the vultures seemed to make risky but efficient choices in flight when they observed the flight of other vultures in the network.
Paper - Social - Eavesdropping - Gliding - Strategy
Their paper Social eavesdropping allows for a more risky gliding strategy by thermal soaring birds has just been published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, and Hannah hopes it will help provide a better understanding about the strategies birds use to navigate the aerial landscape.
She said: "Thermal updrafts are chaotic in their occurrence, so it makes sense for these heavy birds to 'eavesdrop' on the movements of other birds to find thermals, just as human pilots do when gliding.
Dr - Olivier - Duriez - University - Montpellier
"We worked with Dr. Olivier Duriez, of the University of Montpellier, to track the movements of five vultures at a bird of prey centre in France, using special tag technology contained in backpacks worn by the birds.
"We hypothesised that birds would fly towards areas where other birds had been circling and that they would do so at fast speeds. It is a risky flight strategy to glide at fast speeds,but it appears they may take this risk when using information from the network."
Co-authors - Swansea - Laboratory - Animal - Movement
Working with her co-authors from the Swansea Laboratory for Animal Movement and SHOALgroup, both based in the University's Biosciences Department, Hannah explained that the research data was collected in just three...
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