The bulletin of mathematical biophysics

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 431–476

A mathematical contribution to the study of orientation of organisms

  • Clifford S. Patlak

DOI: 10.1007/BF02476435

Cite this article as:
Patlak, C.S. Bulletin of Mathematical Biophysics (1953) 15: 431. doi:10.1007/BF02476435


Organisms orient themselves to a stimulus by two general methods. One method is by directed orientation (taxis); the other is by undirected locomotory reaction (kinesis). An equation, and the methods for finding the necessary parameters of this equation, is derived for the distribution of organisms within a container, with the following limitations: (1) the organisms have no accommodation, (2) they are always active, and (3) the stimulus changes slowly with position. Necessary modifications of the equation are then derived, so that the last two limitations may be eliminated. The equation cannot be solved excatly because of its complexity; hence an approximation method must be used. This method is discussed, an approximate solution is found, and a time constant for equilibrium to be established is derived. Applications tovarious experiments in the literature are then made with fairly satisfactory results. A new interpretation of the theory of klino-kinesis with accommodation is found upon application of the equations developed to experimental work. Further limitations and uses of these equations are then discussed.

Copyright information

© University of Chicago 1953

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clifford S. Patlak
    • 1
  1. 1.Committee on Mathematical BiologyThe University of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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