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Sci Rep. 2015 Nov 24;5:17061. doi: 10.1038/srep17061.

True navigation in migrating gulls requires intact olfactory nerves.

Author information

1
Department of Migration and ImmunoEcology, Max-Planck Institute of Ornithology, Am Obstberg 1, 78315 Radolfzell, Germany.
2
Ornithology, Konstanz University, 78457 Konstanz, Germany.
3
Department of Biology, Via Volta 6, Pisa University, 56126 Pisa, Italy.
4
School of Forest Sciences, Faculty of Science and Forestry, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu campus, P.O. Box 111, FI-80101 Joensuu, Finland.
5
Karelia University of Applied Sciences, Joensuu, Finland.
6
Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences, Staromonetnystr. 29, Moscow, 119017, Russia.
7
Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen 2100, Denmark.
8
Department of Anatomy with Radiology, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland. Auckland, New Zealand.
9
Institute of Avian Research, An der Vogelwarte 21, 26386 Wilhelmshaven, Germany.
10
Solovetskiy Branch of White Sea Biological Station of Lomonosov Moscow State University, Zaozernaya str. 17-1-6, Solovetskiy, Arkhangelsk district, 164409, Russia.
11
Field Educational Centre "Ecosystem", Festivalnaya st., 22-8-111, Moscow, Russia.

Abstract

During migratory journeys, birds may become displaced from their normal migratory route. Experimental evidence has shown that adult birds can correct for such displacements and return to their goal. However, the nature of the cues used by migratory birds to perform long distance navigation is still debated. In this experiment we subjected adult lesser black-backed gulls migrating from their Finnish/Russian breeding grounds (from >60°N) to Africa (to < 5°N) to sensory manipulation, to determine the sensory systems required for navigation. We translocated birds westward (1080 km) or eastward (885 km) to simulate natural navigational challenges. When translocated westwards and outside their migratory corridor birds with olfactory nerve section kept a clear directional preference (southerly) but were unable to compensate for the displacement, while intact birds and gulls with the ophthalmic branch of the trigeminal nerve sectioned oriented towards their population-specific migratory corridor. Thus, air-borne olfactory information seems to be important for migrating gulls to navigate successfully in some circumstances.

PMID:
26597351
PMCID:
PMC4657012
DOI:
10.1038/srep17061
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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