Life: The Science of Biology, Eleventh Edition

Sadava • Hillis • Heller • Hacker

Published by Sinauer Associates and Macmillan Learning

A Murmuration of Starlings

This video depicts the extraordinary sight of coordinated movement—or murmuration—of a flock of starlings in response to a potential predator (a hawk). Individual birds coordinate their flight by sending, receiving, and processing signals from their immediate neighbors, although the exact processes that allow a flock of starlings to respond in almost perfect unison are still unknown. Murmuration is one of the most visible and beautiful examples of a critical transition, in which small perturbations to a system result in major transformations. Such critical transitions are important in many areas of biology, from the action of individual proteins and cells to the behavior of flocks of birds. (Video © Dylan Winter)

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