The fractal organization of ultradian rhythms in avian behavior

Diego A. Guzmán, Ana G. Flesia, Miguel A. Aon, Stefania Pellegrini, Raúl H. Marin, Jackelyn M. Kembro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Living systems exhibit non-randomly organized biochemical, physiological, and behavioral processes that follow distinctive patterns. In particular, animal behavior displays both fractal dynamics and periodic rhythms yet the relationship between these two dynamic regimens remain unexplored. Herein we studied locomotor time series of visually isolated Japanese quails sampled every 0.5 s during 6.5 days (>106 data points). These high-resolution, week-long, time series enabled simultaneous evaluation of ultradian rhythms as well as fractal organization according to six different analytical methods that included Power Spectrum, Enright, Empirical Mode Decomposition, Wavelet, and Detrended Fluctuation analyses. Time series analyses showed that all birds exhibit circadian rhythms. Although interindividual differences were detected, animals presented ultradian behavioral rhythms of 12, 8, 6, 4.8, 4 h and/or lower and, irrespective of visual isolation, synchronization between these ultradian rhythms was observed. Moreover, all birds presented similar overall fractal dynamics (for scales â30 s to >4.4 h). This is the first demonstration that avian behavior presents fractal organization that predominates at shorter time scales and coexists with synchronized ultradian rhythms. This chronobiological pattern is advantageous for keeping the organism's endogenous rhythms in phase with internal and environmental periodicities, notably the feeding, light-dark and sleep-wake cycles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number684
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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