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A snapshot-based mechanism for celestial orientation

El Jundi, Basil LU ; Foster, James LU ; Khaldy, Lana LU ; Byrne, Marcus J; Dacke, Marie LU and Baird, Emily LU (2016) In Current Biology 26.
Abstract
n order to protect their food from competitors, ball-rolling dung beetles detach a piece of dung from a pile, shape it into a ball, and roll it away along a straight path [1]. They appear to rely exclusively on celestial compass cues to maintain their bearing [2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8], but the mechanism that enables them to use these cues for orientation remains unknown. Here, we describe the orientation strategy that allows dung beetles to use celestial cues in a dynamic fashion. We tested the underlying orientation mechanism by presenting beetles with a combination of simulated celestial cues (sun, polarized light, and spectral cues). We show that these animals do not rely on an innate prediction of the natural geographical relationship... (More)
n order to protect their food from competitors, ball-rolling dung beetles detach a piece of dung from a pile, shape it into a ball, and roll it away along a straight path [1]. They appear to rely exclusively on celestial compass cues to maintain their bearing [2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8], but the mechanism that enables them to use these cues for orientation remains unknown. Here, we describe the orientation strategy that allows dung beetles to use celestial cues in a dynamic fashion. We tested the underlying orientation mechanism by presenting beetles with a combination of simulated celestial cues (sun, polarized light, and spectral cues). We show that these animals do not rely on an innate prediction of the natural geographical relationship between celestial cues, as other navigating insects seem to [9 and 10]. Instead, they appear to form an internal representation of the prevailing celestial scene, a “celestial snapshot,” even if that scene represents a physical impossibility for the real sky. We also find that the beetles are able to maintain their bearing with respect to the presented cues only if the cues are visible when the snapshot is taken. This happens during the “dance,” a behavior in which the beetle climbs on top of its ball and rotates about its vertical axis [11]. This strategy for reading celestial signals is a simple but efficient mechanism for straight-line orientation. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
navigation, orientation, insect, compass, skylighht cues, polarized light, Scarabaeus lamarcki
in
Current Biology
volume
26
pages
7 pages
publisher
Elsevier
external identifiers
  • scopus:84966681488
  • wos:000377390700024
ISSN
0960-9822
DOI
10.1016/j.cub.2016.03.030
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
0e1634fc-c983-4409-9408-79710b303c1b
date added to LUP
2016-05-14 15:24:27
date last changed
2017-07-23 05:14:18
@article{0e1634fc-c983-4409-9408-79710b303c1b,
  abstract     = {n order to protect their food from competitors, ball-rolling dung beetles detach a piece of dung from a pile, shape it into a ball, and roll it away along a straight path [1]. They appear to rely exclusively on celestial compass cues to maintain their bearing [2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8], but the mechanism that enables them to use these cues for orientation remains unknown. Here, we describe the orientation strategy that allows dung beetles to use celestial cues in a dynamic fashion. We tested the underlying orientation mechanism by presenting beetles with a combination of simulated celestial cues (sun, polarized light, and spectral cues). We show that these animals do not rely on an innate prediction of the natural geographical relationship between celestial cues, as other navigating insects seem to [9 and 10]. Instead, they appear to form an internal representation of the prevailing celestial scene, a “celestial snapshot,” even if that scene represents a physical impossibility for the real sky. We also find that the beetles are able to maintain their bearing with respect to the presented cues only if the cues are visible when the snapshot is taken. This happens during the “dance,” a behavior in which the beetle climbs on top of its ball and rotates about its vertical axis [11]. This strategy for reading celestial signals is a simple but efficient mechanism for straight-line orientation.},
  author       = {El Jundi, Basil and Foster, James and Khaldy, Lana and Byrne, Marcus J and Dacke, Marie and Baird, Emily},
  issn         = {0960-9822},
  keyword      = {navigation,orientation,insect,compass,skylighht cues,polarized light,Scarabaeus lamarcki},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {06},
  pages        = {7},
  publisher    = {Elsevier},
  series       = {Current Biology},
  title        = {A snapshot-based mechanism for celestial orientation},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2016.03.030},
  volume       = {26},
  year         = {2016},
}