An ecological approach to measuring synchronization abilities across the animal kingdom

Henry, M. J., Cook, P. F., de Reus, K., Nityananda, V., Rouse, A. A., & Kotz, S. A. (2021). An ecological approach to measuring synchronization abilities across the animal kingdom. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 376: 20200336. doi:10.1098/rstb.2020.0336.
In this perspective paper, we focus on the study of synchronization abilities across the animal kingdom. We propose an ecological approach to studying nonhuman animal synchronization that begins from observations about when, how and why an animal might synchronize spontaneously with natural environmental rhythms. We discuss what we consider to be the most important, but thus far largely understudied, temporal, physical, perceptual and motivational constraints that must be taken into account when designing experiments to test synchronization in nonhuman animals. First and foremost, different species are likely to be sensitive to and therefore capable of synchronizing at different timescales. We also argue that it is fruitful to consider the latent flexibility of animal synchronization. Finally, we discuss the importance of an animal's motivational state for showcasing synchronization abilities. We demonstrate that the likelihood that an animal can successfully synchronize with an environmental rhythm is context-dependent and suggest that the list of species capable of synchronization is likely to grow when tested with ecologically honest, species-tuned experiments.
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