Document Detail

Evidence that pigeons orient to geomagnetic intensity during homing.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  17301015     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
The influence of the Earth's magnetic field on locomotory orientation has been studied in many taxa but is best understood for homing pigeons (Columba livia). Effects of experimentally induced and naturally occurring perturbations in the geomagnetic field suggest that pigeons are sensitive to changes in geomagnetic parameters. However, whether pigeons use the Earth's magnetic field for position determination remains unknown. Here we report an apparent orientation to the intensity gradient of the geomagnetic field observed in pigeons homing from sites in and around a magnetic anomaly. From flight trajectories recorded by GPS-based tracking devices, we noted that many pigeons released at unfamiliar sites initially flew, in some cases up to several kilometres, in directions parallel and/or perpendicular to the bearing of the local intensity field. This behaviour occurred irrespective of the homeward direction and significantly more often than what was expected by random chance. Our study describes a novel behaviour which provides strong evidence that pigeons when homing detect and respond to spatial variation in the Earth's magnetic field--information of potential use for navigation.
Todd E Dennis; Matt J Rayner; Michael M Walker
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Comparative Study; Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society     Volume:  274     ISSN:  0962-8452     ISO Abbreviation:  Proc. Biol. Sci.     Publication Date:  2007 May 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2007-04-19     Completed Date:  2007-07-27     Revised Date:  2013-06-06    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  101245157     Medline TA:  Proc Biol Sci     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  1153-8     Citation Subset:  IM    
School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, New Zealand.
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MeSH Terms
Columbidae / physiology*
Homing Behavior / physiology*
Orientation / physiology*

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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