Behavioral Lateralization and Optimal Route Choice in Flying Budgerigars

Bhagavatula, Partha S., Claudianos, Charles, Ibbotson, Michael R. and Srinivasan, Mandyam V. (2014) Behavioral Lateralization and Optimal Route Choice in Flying Budgerigars. Plos Computational Biology, 10 3: e1003473.1-e1003473.13. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003473

Author Bhagavatula, Partha S.
Claudianos, Charles
Ibbotson, Michael R.
Srinivasan, Mandyam V.
Title Behavioral Lateralization and Optimal Route Choice in Flying Budgerigars
Journal name Plos Computational Biology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1553-7358
Publication date 2014
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003473
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 10
Issue 3
Start page e1003473.1
End page e1003473.13
Total pages 13
Place of publication San Francisco, CA United States
Publisher Public Library of Science
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Subject 1703 Computational Theory and Mathematics
2611 Modelling and Simulation
1105 Dentistry
1311 Genetics
1312 Molecular Biology
2303 Ecology
2804 Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Abstract Birds flying through a cluttered environment require the ability to choose routes that will take them through the environment safely and quickly. We have investigated some of the strategies by which they achieve this. We trained budgerigars to fly through a tunnel in which they encountered a barrier that offered two passages, positioned side by side, at the halfway point. When one of the passages was substantially wider than the other, the birds tended to fly through the wider passage to continue their transit to the end of the tunnel, regardless of whether this passage was on the right or the left. Evidently, the birds were selecting the safest and quickest route. However, when the two passages were of equal or nearly equal width, some individuals consistently preferred the left-hand passage, while others consistently preferred the passage on the right. Thus, the birds displayed idiosyncratic biases when choosing between alternative routes. Surprisingly - and unlike most of the instances in which behavioral lateralization has previously been discovered - the bias was found to vary from individual to individual, in its direction as well as its magnitude. This is very different from handedness in humans, where the majority of humans are right-handed, giving rise to a so-called 'population' bias. Our experimental results and mathematical model of this behavior suggest that individually varying lateralization, working in concert with a tendency to choose the wider aperture, can expedite the passage of a flock of birds through a cluttered environment.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

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