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J Exp Biol. 2019 Mar 11;222(Pt 5). pii: jeb196469. doi: 10.1242/jeb.196469.

Magnetic body alignment in migratory songbirds: a computer vision approach.

Author information

1
Centre for Animal Movement Research, Department of Biology, Lund University, Ecology Building, SE 223 62 Lund, Sweden giuseppe.bianco@biol.lu.se susanne.akesson@biol.lu.se.
2
Centre for Animal Movement Research, Department of Biology, Lund University, Ecology Building, SE 223 62 Lund, Sweden.
3
Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 2 Gagarin str., 1113 Sofia, Bulgaria.

Abstract

Several invertebrate and vertebrate species have been shown to align their body relative to the geomagnetic field. Many hypotheses have been proposed to explain the adaptive significance of magnetic body alignment outside the context of navigation. However, experimental evidence to investigate alternative hypotheses is still limited. We present a new setup to track the preferential body alignment relative to the geomagnetic field in captive animals using computer vision. We tested our method on three species of migratory songbirds and provide evidence that they align their body with the geomagnetic field. We suggest that this behaviour is involved in the underlying mechanism for compass orientation and calibration, which may occur near to sunrise and sunset periods. Our method could easily be extended to other species and used to test a large set of hypotheses to explain the mechanisms behind the magnetic body alignment and the magnetic sense in general.

KEYWORDS:

Behavioural experiments; Geomagnetic field; Magnetic compass; Magnetic sense; Movement patterns

PMID:
30728159
DOI:
10.1242/jeb.196469

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interestsThe authors declare no competing or financial interests.

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