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Do The Funky…Pigeon

You could read Emma Ware’s PhD thesis to find out how social dynamics influence the behavior of pigeons…or, you could watch her dance.

Ware was the Social Science winner of the 2011 Dance Your PhD Contest, sponsored by Science and TEDxBrussels.

Her dance shows that when confronted when an unresponsive female pigeon on a prerecorded video, the courtship behavior of male pigeons decreased. Courtship behavior also decreased in response to a nine-second delay in the female’s response.

In contrast, the male’s courtship behavior didn’t decrease in response to one-second delays, three-second delays, or spatial manipulations. Manipulated social dynamics didn’t affect the behavior of same-sex pigeon pairs either.

Watch the video to learn more about Ware’s research — or for inspiration if you’re thinking about entering next year’s contest.

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