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Sanderlings (Calidris alba) have a magnetic compass: Orientation experiments during spring migration in Iceland

Gudmundsson, G A and Sandberg, Roland LU (2000) In Journal of Experimental Biology 203(20). p.3137-3144
Abstract
The migratory orientation of sanderlings (Calidris alba) was investigated with cage experiments during the spring migration in southwest Iceland. Sanderlings were exposed to 90 degrees counterclockwise-shifted magnetic fields under both clear skies and natural overcast. Clear sky control tests resulted in a northerly mean direction, in agreement with predictions based on ringing recovery data and earlier visual observations of departing flocks. Sanderlings closely followed experimental deflections of magnetic fields when tested under clear skies. Control experiments under natural overcast resulted in a bimodal distribution approximately coinciding with the magnetic north-south axis. Overcast tests did not reveal any predictable response to... (More)
The migratory orientation of sanderlings (Calidris alba) was investigated with cage experiments during the spring migration in southwest Iceland. Sanderlings were exposed to 90 degrees counterclockwise-shifted magnetic fields under both clear skies and natural overcast. Clear sky control tests resulted in a northerly mean direction, in agreement with predictions based on ringing recovery data and earlier visual observations of departing flocks. Sanderlings closely followed experimental deflections of magnetic fields when tested under clear skies. Control experiments under natural overcast resulted in a bimodal distribution approximately coinciding with the magnetic north-south axis. Overcast tests did not reveal any predictable response to the experimental treatment, but instead resulted in a non-significant circular distribution. The time of orientation experiments in relation to the tidal cycle affects the motivation of the birds to depart, as shown by the lower directional scatter of headings of individuals tested within the appropriate tidal window under clear skies. Sanderlings were significantly more likely to become inactive under overcast conditions than under clear sky conditions. The results demonstrate, for the first time, that a wader species such as the sanderling possesses a magnetic compass and suggest that magnetic cues are of primary directional importance. However, overcast experiments indicate that both celestial and geomagnetic information are needed for sanderlings to realize a seasonally appropriate migratory orientation. (Less)
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author
organization
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type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Journal of Experimental Biology
volume
203
issue
20
pages
3137 - 3144
publisher
The Company of Biologists Ltd
external identifiers
  • scopus:0033741142
ISSN
1477-9145
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
62494bd4-2c1e-41a1-8640-d6cf96e29c18 (old id 145923)
alternative location
http://jeb.biologists.org/content/vol203/issue20/
date added to LUP
2007-06-26 07:22:51
date last changed
2017-08-06 03:39:47
@article{62494bd4-2c1e-41a1-8640-d6cf96e29c18,
  abstract     = {The migratory orientation of sanderlings (Calidris alba) was investigated with cage experiments during the spring migration in southwest Iceland. Sanderlings were exposed to 90 degrees counterclockwise-shifted magnetic fields under both clear skies and natural overcast. Clear sky control tests resulted in a northerly mean direction, in agreement with predictions based on ringing recovery data and earlier visual observations of departing flocks. Sanderlings closely followed experimental deflections of magnetic fields when tested under clear skies. Control experiments under natural overcast resulted in a bimodal distribution approximately coinciding with the magnetic north-south axis. Overcast tests did not reveal any predictable response to the experimental treatment, but instead resulted in a non-significant circular distribution. The time of orientation experiments in relation to the tidal cycle affects the motivation of the birds to depart, as shown by the lower directional scatter of headings of individuals tested within the appropriate tidal window under clear skies. Sanderlings were significantly more likely to become inactive under overcast conditions than under clear sky conditions. The results demonstrate, for the first time, that a wader species such as the sanderling possesses a magnetic compass and suggest that magnetic cues are of primary directional importance. However, overcast experiments indicate that both celestial and geomagnetic information are needed for sanderlings to realize a seasonally appropriate migratory orientation.},
  author       = {Gudmundsson, G A and Sandberg, Roland},
  issn         = {1477-9145},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {20},
  pages        = {3137--3144},
  publisher    = {The Company of Biologists Ltd},
  series       = {Journal of Experimental Biology},
  title        = {Sanderlings (Calidris alba) have a magnetic compass: Orientation experiments during spring migration in Iceland},
  volume       = {203},
  year         = {2000},
}