Socially induced ovulation synchrony and its effect on seabird population dynamics

Shandelle M. Henson, J. M. Cushing, James L. Hayward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Spontaneous oscillator synchrony is a form of self-organization in which populations of interacting oscillators ultimately cycle together. This phenomenon occurs in a wide range of physical and biological systems. In rats and humans, oestrous/menstrual cycles synchronize through social stimulation with pheromones acting as synchronizing signals. In previous work, we showed that glaucous-winged gulls (Larus glaucescens) can lay eggs synchronously on an every-other-day schedule, and that synchrony increases with colony density. We posed a discrete-time mathematical model for reproduction during the breeding season based on the hypothesis that pre-ovulatory luteinizing hormone surges synchronize by means of visual, auditory and/or olfactory cues. Here, we extend the seasonal model in order to investigate the effect of ovulation synchrony on population dynamics across reproductive seasons. We show that socially stimulated ovulation synchrony can enhance total population size and allow the population to persist at lower birth rates than would otherwise be possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)495-516
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of biological dynamics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Bifurcation
  • Cannibalism
  • Discrete-time model
  • Gull colony
  • Ovulation synchrony

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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