Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers Make Key Observation about Animal Behavior Patterns

30.03.2009
Northeastern University and MIT researchers have observed—for the first time—the origin of a mass gathering and the subsequent migration of hundreds of millions of animals.

Utilizing a new imaging technology invented by the researchers, they were able to instantaneously image and continuously monitor entire shoals of fish containing hundreds of millions of individuals stretching for tens of kilometers off Georges Bank near Boston.

They found that once large shoals of Atlantic herring reach a critical population density, a “chain reaction” triggers the synchronized movement of millions of individual fish over a large area. The phenomenon is akin to a human “wave” moving in a sports stadium. They also observed that the fish “commute” to the shallower waters of the bank, where they spawn in the darkness, then return to deeper water and disband the following morning.

The findings, published in the latest issue of Science, confirm general theories about the behavior of large groups of animals that, until now, had not been verified in nature. Previously, these theories for diverse animal groups, ranging from flocks of birds to swarms of locusts, had only been tested with computer simulations and laboratory experiments.

“As far as we know, this is the first time we’ve quantified this behavior in nature and over such a huge ecosystem,” said Nicholas C. Makris, professor of mechanical and ocean engineering at MIT, who co-led this project with Northeastern professor Purnima Ratilal.

As part of the project, two research vessels were equipped with Ocean Acoustic Waveguide Remote Sensing (OAWRS) technology, developed by professors Makris and Ratilal. Both OAWRS and conventional sensing methods depend on acoustics to locate objects by bouncing sound waves off of them. OAWRS, however, captures images of a 100 kilometer diameter area every 75 seconds, providing far more complete coverage of fish population and behavior than conventional methods. In addition, OAWRS does so at a lower frequency than conventional methods, which allows the sound to travel much greater distances with lower intensity and still provide useful information.

"After analyzing the data carefully during the initial days at sea, I noticed what seemed to be a daily pattern of fish shoal formation,” said Ratilal, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Northeastern. “When I predicted what would happen the following day, and it turned out to be right, we knew we had discovered something really important."

Makris and Ratilal see potential in using OAWRS to better monitor—and conserve—fish populations. Large oceanic fish shoals provide vital links in the ocean and human food chain, they explained, but their sheer size makes it difficult to collect information using conventional methods.

Northeastern PhD. students Mark Andrews and Zheng Gong contributed to this research. Additional collaborators include J. Michael Jech of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Olav Rune Godoe of the Institute of Marine Research in Norway, as well as others from MIT, Northeastern and the Southeast Fisheries Science Center. The project was sponsored by the National Oceanographic Partnership Program, the Office of Naval Research and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and is a contribution to the Census of Marine Life.

Jenny Eriksen | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.neu.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

nachricht World Water Day 2017: It doesn’t Always Have to Be Drinking Water – Using Wastewater as a Resource
17.03.2017 | ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>