Sea gulls mimic life-saving instinct from other gulls to assure survival

February 22nd, 2009 - 2:18 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Feb 22 (ANI): A new study has indicated that sea gulls copy the life-saving instinct from other gulls, which ensures their survival.

The study, by researchers from Universite de Montreal, shows that Herring and Ring-billed gulls not only watch their neighbours; they mimic their behaviour to assure their survival.

Contrary to previous beliefs, this study suggests that animals dont necessarily act independently and that they cue on reactions from other members of their group.

This is the first study to report how gulls copy the vigilance and awareness of other gulls during rest periods, said Guy Beauchamp, who authored the study and is a statistician in the Universite de Montreals Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.

When their immediate neighbours were alert, the gulls we observed were more aware and rested less. In contrast, when the neighbours were relaxed, so were the subjects, he added.

This behavioural mimicry may be advantageous when a predator is close.

If the surrounding group is agitated and ready to take flight, it may be beneficial to be similarly alert, said Dr. Beauchamp. You dont want to be the last gull standing when a predator approaches, he added.

Dr. Beauchamp spent the last two summers tracking and studying gull behaviour in the Bay of Fundy. He compared the activity of gulls that were sleeping relative to the alertness of their neighbours.

Gulls sleep with one eye open and constantly scan the group. Based on my observations, we know now that they are judging the level of vigilance of their peers to mimic it. This adds a new complexity to understanding animal behaviour, he said. (ANI)

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