From Meerkats To Honeybees, How Animals Make Important Decisions By 'voting'

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While elections have been a drastic experience for countries around the world, researchers have suggested that meerkats, baboons, have a way to 'vote' too.

Written By Aanchal Nigam | Mumbai | Updated On:

While elections have been a drastic experience for countries around the world, researchers have suggested that animals have a way to 'vote' among themselves too. From meerkats to African wild dogs, there are 'unique' ways in which these animals chose to be 'democratic' to carry out their day-to-day tasks. Recently, Israelis went out to poll for the third time and Democratic candidates in the United States are preparing themselves for 'Super Tuesday', here's how certain animals practice democracy. 


These animals apparently start their day by getting out of their burrows into the sunlight and then search for food in loose groups. According to reports, an animal-behaviour scientist at the University of Zurich, Marta Manser and her colleagues studied the calls made by meerkats as they squander around the area about 30 feet away from its neighbour and move to another area. Manser and her team when studied 19 meerkats in groups of three, they noticed that only about three group members had to make the call before the whole party decided to move along. 

This response, according to scientists is called 'quorum' when animals change their behaviour in response to a critical mass of their peers doing something. Furthermore, the researchers found out that the determination of the individual making the call, matters. 

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Especially in the spring, a swarm of bees is seen dangling from a tree branch while making a tough real estate decision. Researchers have established that the group is divided into two groups, the queen and several thousand workers who fly away from the hive together. The swarm then finds another place for some days or hours while other scouts fan out to search for a new home. According to researchers when the scout finds a habitable hole or hollow, she inspects it thoroughly before flying back to the swarm. 

While walking on the swarm's surface, she does waggling, a repetitive dance that tells other bees about the site she has discovered, its quality, direction, and distance. This is followed by a similar dance by more scouts who return to the swarm. Gradually, some scouts are gradually persuaded by others, and then switch their choreography to match up. Once, every scout agrees, the swarm flies off to its new home. 

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African wild dogs

Since African wild dogs spend most of their time socializing and sometimes lazing around, members of a pack reportedly jump up and greet one another in high-energy rituals which are called rallies. After a rally among them, the dogs then move to hunt or go back to resting. In a study occurred in 2017, researchers discovered that the decision to either hunt or stay is supposedly democratic. 

To cast vote for hunting after a rally, the African wild dogs sneeze, more the sneezes, more dogs were likely to begin hunting. It was also noticed that if a dominant dog started a rally, it was comparatively easier to persuade the group, for instance, only three sneezes. However, if a subordinate dog started the rally, it would require a minimum ten sneezes to start the hunt. But researchers have also said that there is a possibility that they vote in some other hidden manner. 

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The authors of a 2015 paper put GPS collars on 25 members of one troop in Kenya and studied the movements of each individual. The data later showed that any baboon might start moving away from the others as if to draw them onto a new course, male or female, dominant or subordinate. While several baboons move in the same direction, others were more likely to come along. However, if there was a disagreement, the trailblazing baboons move in totally different directions.

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