Socially-induced Synchronization of Avian Ovulation Cycles

Mathematical Biology and Ecology Seminar
Wednesday, April 8, 2009 - 11:00
1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
Skiles 255
Andrews University
Oscillator synchrony can occur through environmental forcing or as a phenomenon of spontaneous self-organization in which interacting oscillators adjust phase or period and begin to cycle together. Examples of spontaneous synchrony have been documented in a wide variety of electrical, mechanical, chemical, and biological systems, including the menstrual cycles of women. Many colonial birds breed approximately synchronously within a time window set by photoperiod. Some studies have suggested that heightened social stimulation in denser colonies can lead to a tightened annual reproductive pulse (the “Fraser Darling effect”). It has been unknown, however, whether avian ovulation cycles can synchronize on a daily timescale within the annual breeding pulse. We will discuss socially-stimulated egg-laying synchrony in a breeding colony of glaucous-winged gulls using Monte Carlo analysis and a discrete-time dynamical system model.