Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Curr Biol. 2018 Jul 9;28(13):2160-2166.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.05.030. Epub 2018 Jun 21.

The Earth's Magnetic Field and Visual Landmarks Steer Migratory Flight Behavior in the Nocturnal Australian Bogong Moth.

Author information

1
Lund Vision Group, Department of Biology, University of Lund, Sölvegatan 35, 22362 Lund, Sweden. Electronic address: david.dreyer@biol.lu.se.
2
Department of Psychology, Queens University, 62 Arch Street, Kingston, ON K7L 3N6, Canada.
3
Institute for Biology and Environmental Sciences, University of Oldenburg, Carl-von-Ossietzky-Strasse 9-11, 26129 Oldenburg, Germany.
4
New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, 49 Kosciuszko Road, Jindabyne, NSW 2627, Australia.
5
CSIRO, Australian Cotton Research Institute, Wee Waa Road, Narrabri, NSW 2390, Australia.
6
Department of Biology, Duke University, 130 Science Drive, Durham, NC 27708, USA.
7
Lund Vision Group, Department of Biology, University of Lund, Sölvegatan 35, 22362 Lund, Sweden.
8
Lund Vision Group, Department of Biology, University of Lund, Sölvegatan 35, 22362 Lund, Sweden. Electronic address: eric.warrant@biol.lu.se.

Abstract

Like many birds [1], numerous species of nocturnal moths undertake spectacular long-distance migrations at night [2]. Each spring, billions of Bogong moths (Agrotis infusa) escape hot conditions in different regions of southeast Australia by making a highly directed migration of over 1,000 km to a limited number of cool caves in the Australian Alps, historically used for aestivating over the summer [3, 4]. How moths determine the direction of inherited migratory trajectories at night and locate their destination (i.e., navigate) is currently unknown [5-7]. Here we show that Bogong moths can sense the Earth's magnetic field and use it in conjunction with visual landmarks to steer migratory flight behavior. By tethering migrating moths in an outdoor flight simulator [8], we found that their flight direction turned predictably when dominant visual landmarks and a natural Earth-strength magnetic field were turned together, but that the moths became disoriented within a few minutes when these cues were set in conflict. We thus conclude that Bogong moths, like nocturnally migrating birds [9], can use a magnetic sense. Our results represent the first reliable demonstration of the use of the Earth's magnetic field to steer flight behavior in a nocturnal migratory insect.

KEYWORDS:

Agrotis infusa; Bogong moth; Noctuidae; insect vision; magnetic sense; migration; navigation

PMID:
29937347
DOI:
10.1016/j.cub.2018.05.030

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center