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Spatial orientation based on multiple visual cues in non-migratory monarch butterflies

Franzke, Myriam ; Kraus, Christian ; Dreyer, David LU ; Pfeiffer, Keram ; Beetz, M. Jerome ; Stöckl, Anna L. LU ; Foster, James J. LU ; Warrant, Eric J. LU and El Jundi, Basil LU (2020) In The Journal of experimental biology 223.
Abstract

Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) are prominent for their annual long-distance migration from North America to their overwintering area in Central Mexico. To find their way on this long journey, they use a sun compass as their main orientation reference but will also adjust their migratory direction with respect to mountain ranges. This indicates that the migratory butterflies also attend to the panorama to guide their travels. Although the compass has been studied in detail in migrating butterflies, little is known about the orientation abilities of non-migrating butterflies. Here, we investigated whether non-migrating butterflies - which stay in a more restricted area to feed and breed - also use a similar compass system to guide... (More)

Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) are prominent for their annual long-distance migration from North America to their overwintering area in Central Mexico. To find their way on this long journey, they use a sun compass as their main orientation reference but will also adjust their migratory direction with respect to mountain ranges. This indicates that the migratory butterflies also attend to the panorama to guide their travels. Although the compass has been studied in detail in migrating butterflies, little is known about the orientation abilities of non-migrating butterflies. Here, we investigated whether non-migrating butterflies - which stay in a more restricted area to feed and breed - also use a similar compass system to guide their flights. Performing behavioral experiments on tethered flying butterflies in an indoor LED flight simulator, we found that the monarchs fly along straight tracks with respect to a simulated sun. When a panoramic skyline was presented as the only orientation cue, the butterflies maintained their flight direction only during short sequences, suggesting that they potentially use it for flight stabilization. We further found that when we presented the two cues together, the butterflies incorporate both cues in their compass. Taken together, we show here that non-migrating monarch butterflies can combine multiple visual cues for robust orientation, an ability that may also aid them during their migration.

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author
; ; ; ; ; ; ; and
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Insect, Landmarks, Lepidoptera, Navigation, Sun compass, Vision
in
The Journal of experimental biology
volume
223
article number
jeb223800
publisher
The Company of Biologists Ltd
external identifiers
  • pmid:32341174
  • scopus:85086782855
ISSN
1477-9145
DOI
10.1242/jeb.223800
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
e0eb2f2e-dd7c-435c-9fc6-bac46934004c
date added to LUP
2020-07-07 14:43:12
date last changed
2021-04-06 01:59:16
@article{e0eb2f2e-dd7c-435c-9fc6-bac46934004c,
  abstract     = {<p>Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) are prominent for their annual long-distance migration from North America to their overwintering area in Central Mexico. To find their way on this long journey, they use a sun compass as their main orientation reference but will also adjust their migratory direction with respect to mountain ranges. This indicates that the migratory butterflies also attend to the panorama to guide their travels. Although the compass has been studied in detail in migrating butterflies, little is known about the orientation abilities of non-migrating butterflies. Here, we investigated whether non-migrating butterflies - which stay in a more restricted area to feed and breed - also use a similar compass system to guide their flights. Performing behavioral experiments on tethered flying butterflies in an indoor LED flight simulator, we found that the monarchs fly along straight tracks with respect to a simulated sun. When a panoramic skyline was presented as the only orientation cue, the butterflies maintained their flight direction only during short sequences, suggesting that they potentially use it for flight stabilization. We further found that when we presented the two cues together, the butterflies incorporate both cues in their compass. Taken together, we show here that non-migrating monarch butterflies can combine multiple visual cues for robust orientation, an ability that may also aid them during their migration.</p>},
  author       = {Franzke, Myriam and Kraus, Christian and Dreyer, David and Pfeiffer, Keram and Beetz, M. Jerome and Stöckl, Anna L. and Foster, James J. and Warrant, Eric J. and El Jundi, Basil},
  issn         = {1477-9145},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {06},
  publisher    = {The Company of Biologists Ltd},
  series       = {The Journal of experimental biology},
  title        = {Spatial orientation based on multiple visual cues in non-migratory monarch butterflies},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/jeb.223800},
  doi          = {10.1242/jeb.223800},
  volume       = {223},
  year         = {2020},
}