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Lunar orientation in a beetle

Dacke, Marie LU ; Byrne, MJ; Scholtz, CH and Warrant, Eric LU (2004) In Royal Society of London. Proceedings B. Biological Sciences 271(1537). p.361-365
Abstract
Many animals use the sun's polarization pattern to orientate, but the dung beetle Scarabaeus zambesianus is the only animal so far known to orientate using the million times dimmer polarization pattern of the moonlit sky. We demonstrate the relative roles of the moon and the nocturnal polarized-light pattern for orientation. We find that artificially changing the position of the moon, or hiding the moon's disc from the beetle's field of view, generally did not influence its orientation performance. We thus conclude that the moon does not serve as the primary cue for orientation. The effective cue is the polarization pattern formed around the moon, which is more reliable for orientation. Polarization sensitivity ratios in two photoreceptors... (More)
Many animals use the sun's polarization pattern to orientate, but the dung beetle Scarabaeus zambesianus is the only animal so far known to orientate using the million times dimmer polarization pattern of the moonlit sky. We demonstrate the relative roles of the moon and the nocturnal polarized-light pattern for orientation. We find that artificially changing the position of the moon, or hiding the moon's disc from the beetle's field of view, generally did not influence its orientation performance. We thus conclude that the moon does not serve as the primary cue for orientation. The effective cue is the polarization pattern formed around the moon, which is more reliable for orientation. Polarization sensitivity ratios in two photoreceptors in the dorsal eye were found to be 7.7 and 12.9, similar to values recorded in diurnal navigators. These results agree with earlier results suggesting that the detection and analysis of polarized skylight is similar in diurnal and nocturnal insects. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Scarabaeus zambesianus, moon, polarization, pattern, dung beetle, orientation, vision
in
Royal Society of London. Proceedings B. Biological Sciences
volume
271
issue
1537
pages
361 - 365
publisher
Royal Society
external identifiers
  • wos:000189028500005
  • pmid:15101694
  • scopus:1242292250
ISSN
1471-2954
DOI
10.1098/rspb.2003.2594
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
e9b16b83-0534-43a2-95c8-fe14a5b7f020 (old id 286933)
date added to LUP
2007-10-22 16:16:44
date last changed
2017-10-22 04:33:44
@article{e9b16b83-0534-43a2-95c8-fe14a5b7f020,
  abstract     = {Many animals use the sun's polarization pattern to orientate, but the dung beetle Scarabaeus zambesianus is the only animal so far known to orientate using the million times dimmer polarization pattern of the moonlit sky. We demonstrate the relative roles of the moon and the nocturnal polarized-light pattern for orientation. We find that artificially changing the position of the moon, or hiding the moon's disc from the beetle's field of view, generally did not influence its orientation performance. We thus conclude that the moon does not serve as the primary cue for orientation. The effective cue is the polarization pattern formed around the moon, which is more reliable for orientation. Polarization sensitivity ratios in two photoreceptors in the dorsal eye were found to be 7.7 and 12.9, similar to values recorded in diurnal navigators. These results agree with earlier results suggesting that the detection and analysis of polarized skylight is similar in diurnal and nocturnal insects.},
  author       = {Dacke, Marie and Byrne, MJ and Scholtz, CH and Warrant, Eric},
  issn         = {1471-2954},
  keyword      = {Scarabaeus zambesianus,moon,polarization,pattern,dung beetle,orientation,vision},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1537},
  pages        = {361--365},
  publisher    = {Royal Society},
  series       = {Royal Society of London. Proceedings B. Biological Sciences},
  title        = {Lunar orientation in a beetle},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2003.2594},
  volume       = {271},
  year         = {2004},
}