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Open AccessArticle

Effect of Landscape Elements on the Symmetry and Variance of the Spatial Distribution of Individual Birds within Foraging Flocks of Geese

1
Department of Chemistry and Bioscience, Aalborg University, Fredrik Bajers Vej 7H, DK-9220 Aalborg Øst, Denmark
2
Vattenfall Vindkraft A/S, Jupitervej 6–2nd floor, DK-6000 Kolding, Denmark
3
Aalborg Zoo, Molleparkvej 63, DK-9000 Aalborg, Denmark
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Both authors contributed equally.
Symmetry 2019, 11(9), 1103; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym11091103
Received: 23 July 2019 / Revised: 21 August 2019 / Accepted: 23 August 2019 / Published: 2 September 2019
Behavioural instability is a newly coined term used for measuring asymmetry of bilateral behavioural traits as indicators of genetic or environmental stress. However, this concept might also be useful for other types of data than bilateral traits. In this study, behavioural instability indices of expected behaviour were evaluated as an indicator for environmental stress through the application of aerial photos of foraging flocks of geese. It was presumed that geese would increase anti-predator behaviour through the dilution effect when foraging near the following landscape elements: wind turbines, hedgerows, and roads. On this presumption, it was hypothesized that behavioural instability of spatial distribution in flocks of geese could be used as indicators of environmental stress. Asymmetry in spatial distribution was measured for difference in flock density across various distances to disturbing landscape elements through the following indices; behavioural instability of symmetry and behavioural instability of variance. The behavioural instability indices showed clear tendencies for changes in flock density and variance of flock density for geese foraging near wind turbines, hedgerows, and roads indicating increasing environmental stress levels. Thus, behavioural instability has proven to be a useful tool for monitoring environmental stress that does not need bilateral traits to estimate instability but can be applied for indices of expected behaviour. View Full-Text
Keywords: environmental stress; behavioural instability; biomonitoring tool; unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs); disturbance environmental stress; behavioural instability; biomonitoring tool; unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs); disturbance
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Bech-Hansen, M.; M. Kallehauge, R.; Bruhn, D.; H. Funder Castenschiold, J.; Beltoft Gehrlein, J.; Laubek, B.; F. Jensen, L.; Pertoldi, C. Effect of Landscape Elements on the Symmetry and Variance of the Spatial Distribution of Individual Birds within Foraging Flocks of Geese. Symmetry 2019, 11, 1103.

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