FIREFLY COMMUNICATION


Our lab works with communities of synchronous fireflies, one of the landmark model systems for synchronization in nature.

For the most recent preprint on “Spatiotemporal reconstruction of emergent flash synchronization in firefly swarms”, see:

https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.19.999227v1

 

Firefly flashes are more than a mere midsummer night’s wonder: they express a sophisticated social behavior 
characterized by male courtship and female mate choice.

 

During mating season, males of synchronous firefly species flash in unison within swarms of thousands of individuals. These strongly-correlated collective displays have inspired numerous mathematical models to explain how global synchronous patterns emerge from local interactions. Yet, experimental data to validate these models remains sparse. 

 

To address this gap, we develop a method for three-dimensional tracking of firefly flashes, using a stereoscopic setup of 360-degree cameras.

stero_360.png
 

We apply this method to record flashing displays of the North American synchronous species Photinus carolinus in its natural habitat:

 

… as well as within controlled environments:

 

Our results show that even a small number of interacting males synchronize their flashes; however, periodic flash bursts only occur in groups larger than 15 males:

 

Moreover, flash occurrences are correlated over several meters, indicating long-range interactions

spatiotemporal.png
 

Fun feature: youtube lets you scroll through the 360 field of view:

 

To learn more about this work, see: 

R. Sarfati, J. Hayes, É. Sarfati, O. Peleg 

Spatiotemporal reconstruction of emergent flash synchronization in firefly swarms via stereoscopic 360-degree cameras

Submitted, preprint available on bioRxiv
 https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.19.999227v1

 
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