Navigation Links
Bats use the evening sky's polarization pattern for orientation
Date:7/23/2014

This news release is available in German.

Animals can use varying sensory modalities for orientation, some of which might be very different from ours. Some bird species for example take the polarization pattern produced by sunlight in the atmosphere to calibrate their orientation systems. Now researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, Germany, and Queen's University Belfast have discovered with colleagues from Israel that a night active mammal, the greater mouse-eared bat, has the capability to orient using polarized light. These bats use the polarization pattern of the evening sky to calibrate their inner compass.

In the course of evolution manifold sensory systems developed which allowed animals varying possibilities to perceive their environment. Many insect species for example, but also some fish, amphibians, reptiles and birds can see polarized light. Polarized light forms as a result of sunlight being scattered in the atmosphere. The sky's polarization pattern can be used by animals as a compass, well-known examples being the orientation of honeybees, desert ants or migratory birds. Even humans can perceive polarized light to some degree. Subject to certain conditions we can see a so called Haidinger's brush, a diffuse yellowish form, which however, has no known function. The fact that mammals can also make use of this sensory perception was not known so far.

An international team of bat researchers including Stefan Greif from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Seewiesen, and from the Queen's University Belfast now found exactly that. Their study shows that the greater mouse-eared bat (Myotis myotis) can use the polarized light of the evening sky to calibrate their orientation system, which is based on the Earth's magnetic field.

The researchers caught 70 female mouse-eared bats in a cave in North-eastern Bulgaria. During dusk they exposed half of the bats to a polarization direction which was shifted 90 degrees from the natural spectrum. The other half of the animals was placed in similar experimental boxes but with a natural polarization direction. Long after nightfall the bats were brought to two different sites some 20 kilometres away from their home roost. There they were released after the scientists equipped them with tiny radio transmitters to follow their flight trajectories on their way back to the cave. Those animals that experienced a 90 degrees shifted polarization pattern at sunset, vanished in a direction which deviated about 90 degrees from the control group. With this simple experiment the researchers showed for the first time that bats can use the polarization pattern of the evening sky to calibrate their inner compass for orientation. The precise mechanism however, is still unknown so far. "Further behavioural and physiological studies are necessary to understand this fascinating new sensory capability", says Stefan Greif, lead author of this study.


'/>"/>

Contact: Stefan Greif
greif@orn.mpg.de
49-815-793-2376
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Public invited to An Evening of Science & Art at ASCB Annual Meeting
2. Estimating earthquake frequency and patterns in the Puget Lowland
3. Birds evolve signature patterns to distinguish cuckoo eggs from their own
4. Scientists control rapid re-wiring of brain circuits using patterned visual stimulation
5. Motor cortex shown to play active role in learning movement patterns
6. Urbanization, higher temperatures can influence butterfly emergence patterns
7. Viral infections: Identifying the tell-tale patterns
8. New statistical models could lead to better predictions of ocean patterns
9. After death, twin brains show similar patterns of neuropathologic changes
10. Scientific review points to supplement users engaging in a pattern of healthy habits
11. Dispersal patterns key to invasive species success
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Bats use the evening sky's polarization pattern for orientation
(Date:4/5/2017)... , April 5, 2017  The Allen Institute for ... Cell Explorer: a one-of-a-kind portal and dynamic digital window ... imaging data, the first application of deep learning to ... stem cell lines and a growing suite of powerful ... for these and future publicly available resources created and ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... ANGELES , March 30, 2017  On April ... Hack the Genome hackathon at Microsoft,s ... exciting two-day competition will focus on developing health and ... Hack the Genome is the ... been tremendous. The world,s largest companies in the genomics, ...
(Date:3/27/2017)... 27, 2017  Catholic Health Services (CHS) has ... Society (HIMSS) Analytics for achieving Stage 6 on ... . In addition, CHS previously earned a place ... an electronic medical record (EMR). "HIMSS ... of EMR usage in an outpatient setting.  This ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:8/15/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Kapstone Medical is proud to announce that it ... companies and inventors develop and safeguard their latest innovations. The company has grown ... portfolio of clients in the United States and around the world. , Company ...
(Date:8/15/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Kenall, a leader in sealed solid-state lighting, ... sealed and perform efficiently for years. The downlights are ideal for a variety ... such as: hospitals; behavioral health facilities; cleanrooms; containment areas; food and pharmaceutical processing ...
(Date:8/14/2017)... ... August 14, 2017 , ... Every year, millions of ... the antibody community have recently come together to address this antibody crisis and ... , The team at Thermo Fisher Scientific has arranged ...
(Date:8/11/2017)... ... August 11, 2017 , ... A staple in the community for more ... incorporate important key elements including a new digital marketing strategy and updated logo. , ... Bill Miller has partnered with the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center for the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: