Our model of fiddler crab synchronization just got published today in PLoS ONE:
Here’s the abstract:
Fiddler crabs (Uca spp., Decapoda: Ocypodidae) are commonly found forming large aggregations in intertidal zones, where they perform rhythmic waving displays with their greatly enlarged claws. While performing these displays, fiddler crabs often synchronize their behavior with neighboring males, forming the only known synchronized visual courtship displays involving reflected light and moving body parts. Despite being one of the most conspicuous aspects of fiddler crab behavior, little is known about the mechanisms underlying synchronization of male displays. In this study we develop a spatially explicit model of fiddler crab waving displays using coupled logistic map equations. We explored two alternative models in which males either direct their attention at random angles or preferentially toward neighbors. Our results indicate that synchronization is possible over a fairly large region of parameter space. Moreover, our model was capable of generating local synchronization neighborhoods, as commonly observed in fiddler crabs under natural conditions.