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Albatross forage with fractal-like flight

New data support mathematical pattern in birds’ hunting behavior

5:34pm, April 23, 2012

Flight plans reminiscent of fractals could help hungry birds find food. Albatross sometimes hunt by following a mathematical pattern that repeats itself at smaller and smaller scales, researchers report online April 23 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Called Lévy flight, this type of movement includes clusters of small movements every which way, punctuated by the occasional long trip in one direction. It’s thought to be a particularly efficient way to locate scarce prey.

“Think about searching for your car keys,” says David Sims, a behavioral ecologist at the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom in Plymouth. “You intensi

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