Fractal plumage indicates bird fitness

Jan 24, 2013
Fractal plumage indicates bird fitness
Red legged Partridge and fractal pattern. Credit: Hans Hut and Wolfgang Beyer

The complexity of the fractal geometry of a bird's plumage reveals its level of fitness, according to a new study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B today.

Coloured traits play key roles in animal communication. Often, these traits consist in complex (spotted, stripped or irregular colourations) that are difficult to describe with standard tools. Lorenzo Pérez-Rodríguez and his team tried using fractal geometry, which was developed to describe fractals, mathematical objects characterized by their complexity and self-similarity when observed at different scales, in order to analyse bird plumage.

The Spanish scientists studied the black bib patterns of 68 red-legged partridge (Alectoris rufa) and found that a higher bib fractal dimension predicted better individual body condition, as well as immune responsiveness. Moreover, when food intake was experimentally reduced as a means to reduce body condition, the bib's fractal dimension significantly decreased, which could be perceived by potential mates and rivals. Fractal geometry, therefore, provides new opportunities for the study of complex animal colour patterns and their roles in animal communication.

Explore further: Sheepdogs use just two simple rules to round up large herds of sheep

More information: Perez-Rodriguez, L., Jovani, R. and Mougeot, F. Fractal geometry of a complex plumage trait reveals bird's quality, Proceedings of the Royal Society B. dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2012.2783

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Beautiful math of fractals

Oct 13, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- What do mountains, broccoli and the stock market have in common? The answer to that question may best be explained by fractals, the branch of geometry that explains irregular shapes and processes, ...

Formula unlocks secrets of cauliflower's geometry

Oct 23, 2012

The laws that govern how intricate surface patterns, such as those found in the cauliflower, develop over time have been described, for the first time, by a group of European researchers.

Team uses fractal geometry to build lighter structures

Dec 03, 2012

(Phys.org)—A team made up of members from several European countries has published a paper in Physical Review Letters describing a technique they've developed for using fractal geometry to build struct ...

Searching for fractals may help cancer cell testing

Jul 06, 2011

Scientists have long known that healthy cells looked and behaved differently from cancer cells. For instance, the nuclei of healthy cells -- the inner part of the cells where the chromosomes are stored -- ...

Recommended for you

Wolves susceptible to yawn contagion

6 hours ago

Wolves may be susceptible to yawn contagion, according to a study published August 27, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Teresa Romero from The University of Tokyo, Japan, and colleagues.

User comments : 0