Document Detail

Flying Drosophila Orient to Sky Polarization.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  22177905     Owner:  NLM     Status:  Publisher    
Insects maintain a constant bearing across a wide range of spatial scales. Monarch butterflies and locusts traverse continents [1, 2], and foraging bees and ants travel hundreds of meters to return to their nests [1, 3, 4], whereas many other insects fly straight for only a few centimeters before changing direction. Despite this variation in spatial scale, the brain region thought to underlie long-distance navigation is remarkably conserved [5, 6], suggesting that the use of a celestial compass is a general and perhaps ancient capability of insects. Laboratory studies of Drosophila have identified a local search mode in which short, straight segments are interspersed with rapid turns [7, 8]. However, this flight mode is inconsistent with measured gene flow between geographically separated populations [9-11], and individual Drosophila can travel 10 km across desert terrain in a single night [9, 12, 13]-a feat that would be impossible without prolonged periods of straight flight. To directly examine orientation behavior under outdoor conditions, we built a portable flight arena in which a fly viewed the natural sky through a liquid crystal device that could experimentally rotate the polarization angle. Our findings indicate that Drosophila actively orient using the sky's natural polarization pattern.
Peter T Weir; Michael H Dickinson
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Publication Detail:
Type:  JOURNAL ARTICLE     Date:  2011-12-14
Journal Detail:
Title:  Current biology : CB     Volume:  -     ISSN:  1879-0445     ISO Abbreviation:  -     Publication Date:  2011 Dec 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2011-12-19     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  9107782     Medline TA:  Curr Biol     Country:  -    
Other Details:
Languages:  ENG     Pagination:  -     Citation Subset:  -    
Copyright Information:
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Computation and Neural Systems, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.
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