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Neural coding underlying the cue preference for celestial orientation

el Jundi, Basil LU ; Warrant, Eric LU ; Byrne, Marcus J; Khaldy, Lana LU ; Baird, Emily LU ; Smolka, Jochen LU and Dacke, Marie LU (2015) In Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112(36). p.11395-11400
Abstract
Diurnal and nocturnal African dung beetles use celestial cues, such

as the sun, the moon, and the polarization pattern, to roll dung

balls along straight paths across the savanna. Although nocturnal

beetles move in the same manner through the same environment

as their diurnal relatives, they do so when light conditions are at

least 1 million-fold dimmer. Here, we show, for the first time to

our knowledge, that the celestial cue preference differs between

nocturnal and diurnal beetles in a manner that reflects their

contrasting visual ecologies. We also demonstrate how these cue

preferences are reflected in the activity of compass neurons in the

brain.... (More)
Diurnal and nocturnal African dung beetles use celestial cues, such

as the sun, the moon, and the polarization pattern, to roll dung

balls along straight paths across the savanna. Although nocturnal

beetles move in the same manner through the same environment

as their diurnal relatives, they do so when light conditions are at

least 1 million-fold dimmer. Here, we show, for the first time to

our knowledge, that the celestial cue preference differs between

nocturnal and diurnal beetles in a manner that reflects their

contrasting visual ecologies. We also demonstrate how these cue

preferences are reflected in the activity of compass neurons in the

brain. At night, polarized skylight is the dominant orientation cue

for nocturnal beetles. However, if we coerce them to roll during

the day, they instead use a celestial body (the sun) as their primary

orientation cue. Diurnal beetles, however, persist in using a

celestial body for their compass, day or night. Compass neurons

in the central complex of diurnal beetles are tuned only to the

sun, whereas the same neurons in the nocturnal species switch

exclusively to polarized light at lunar light intensities. Thus, these

neurons encode the preferences for particular celestial cues and alter

their weighting according to ambient light conditions. This flexible

encoding of celestial cue preferences relative to the prevailing visual

scenery provides a simple, yet effective, mechanism for enabling

visual orientation at any light intensity. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
volume
112
issue
36
pages
11395 - 11400
publisher
National Acad Sciences
external identifiers
  • pmid:26305929
  • wos:000360994900067
  • scopus:84941254233
ISSN
1091-6490
DOI
10.1073/pnas.1501272112
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
95dbcc29-9c51-4f4e-ab38-6b320c86ebcb (old id 7793373)
date added to LUP
2015-09-03 13:13:22
date last changed
2017-11-05 03:11:30
@article{95dbcc29-9c51-4f4e-ab38-6b320c86ebcb,
  abstract     = {Diurnal and nocturnal African dung beetles use celestial cues, such<br/><br>
as the sun, the moon, and the polarization pattern, to roll dung<br/><br>
balls along straight paths across the savanna. Although nocturnal<br/><br>
beetles move in the same manner through the same environment<br/><br>
as their diurnal relatives, they do so when light conditions are at<br/><br>
least 1 million-fold dimmer. Here, we show, for the first time to<br/><br>
our knowledge, that the celestial cue preference differs between<br/><br>
nocturnal and diurnal beetles in a manner that reflects their<br/><br>
contrasting visual ecologies. We also demonstrate how these cue<br/><br>
preferences are reflected in the activity of compass neurons in the<br/><br>
brain. At night, polarized skylight is the dominant orientation cue<br/><br>
for nocturnal beetles. However, if we coerce them to roll during<br/><br>
the day, they instead use a celestial body (the sun) as their primary<br/><br>
orientation cue. Diurnal beetles, however, persist in using a<br/><br>
celestial body for their compass, day or night. Compass neurons<br/><br>
in the central complex of diurnal beetles are tuned only to the<br/><br>
sun, whereas the same neurons in the nocturnal species switch<br/><br>
exclusively to polarized light at lunar light intensities. Thus, these<br/><br>
neurons encode the preferences for particular celestial cues and alter<br/><br>
their weighting according to ambient light conditions. This flexible<br/><br>
encoding of celestial cue preferences relative to the prevailing visual<br/><br>
scenery provides a simple, yet effective, mechanism for enabling<br/><br>
visual orientation at any light intensity.},
  author       = {el Jundi, Basil and Warrant, Eric and Byrne, Marcus J and Khaldy, Lana and Baird, Emily and Smolka, Jochen and Dacke, Marie},
  issn         = {1091-6490},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {36},
  pages        = {11395--11400},
  publisher    = {National Acad Sciences},
  series       = {Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences},
  title        = {Neural coding underlying the cue preference for celestial orientation},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1501272112},
  volume       = {112},
  year         = {2015},
}