European bison herds move by majority rule: each bison “votes” by facing the direction it wants to go, and the herd goes in the direction chosen by the largest number.

Bison “Vote” on the Direction They’d Like the Herd to Move

Every few years Americans in major cities elect a mayor. The process is relatively straightforward: we vote, and the candidate who carries the majority wins. The same goes for certain bovines. Ecologist Amandine Ramos of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) spent three months observing a bison herd at the Monts-d’Azur Biological Reserve, about 20 miles from Nice. It turns out that European bison operate by majority rule.

These individuals “cast a vote” for the direction they would like to move by orienting their bodies, Ramos observed. If they want to graze in a meadow, they face the meadow. If they would rather slake their thirst, they turn toward a water hole. Eventually one bison makes a move. If the initiator ad… Continue Reading (2 minute read)

5 thoughts on “European bison herds move by majority rule: each bison “votes” by facing the direction it wants to go, and the herd goes in the direction chosen by the largest number.”

  1. Mkwdr

    Ahh but how many of them sneakily take a peak out of the corner if their eye to see which way their mates are facing before turning that way? And in that case are there any Bison that are particularly influential , maybe because they have great hair?

  2. Jonnicat

    How big is the herd? I mean how high can a bison count?

  3. HandRailSuicide1

    If they’re facing different directions, how do they know the majority vote. Is there an arbiter that oversees the process?

  4. chuckiefinzter

    Cows do this also… There maybe the odd few not doing this (I believe these are looking out for danger from predators). Check it out next time you see them in the field.

  5. roadcrew778

    “I won by a lot!” – one particularly orange bison facing the wrong direction.

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