Feeds

GPS-equipped sheep prove herd mentality exists

Woolly thinking helps tight-knit groups of animals to survive

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

British Boffins from Cambridge, University College London and The Royal Veterinary College have used an Australian farm to research flocking behaviour in herd animals and feel they have validated theories about how herds of animals protect themselves from predators.

Detailed in Current Biology, the team started with the long-held theory that “A major factor in the evolution of flocking behaviour is thought to be predation, whereby larger and/or more cohesive groups are better at detecting predators...” Herds are also thought to be better at responding to predators, as once an individual herd member detects a threat it will alert its herd-mates. All members of a herd were thought to then bunch up, to make it harder for predators to pick a target.

The team found most of those assumptions valid after setting a trained sheep dog on 46 Australian sheep, all of which wore GPS trackers. The sheep “demonstrated classic aggregation and avoidance behaviour” once the dog came within 70 metres, and each individual “moved towards the flock centroid until they were in a tight cluster” as shown in this video of one test (AVI download).

The resulting tightly-knit (pardon the pun) herd of sheep meant no lone individual could be picked off by a predator, which could explain why so many land and animals gather in groups.

The researchers admit that larger-scale tests are needed to fully validate the theory. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Rosetta science team thinks Philae might come to life in the spring
And disclose the biggest surprise of Comet 67P
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Managing SSL certificates with ease
The lack of operational efficiencies and compliance pitfalls associated with poor SSL certificate management, and how the right SSL certificate management tool can help.