Journal article

A nocturnal mammal, the greater mouse-eared bat, calibrates a magnetic compass by the sun

Holland R, Borissov I, Siemers B ...see all

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 107, issue 15 (2010) pp. 6941-6945

  • 155

    Readers

    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 32

    Citations

    Citations of this article.
Sign in to save reference

Abstract

Recent evidence suggests that bats can detect the geomagnetic field, but the way in which this is used by them for navigation to a home roost remains unresolved. The geomagnetic field may be used by animals both to indicate direction and to locate position. In birds, directional information appears to be derived from an interaction of the magnetic field with either the sun or the stars, with some evidence suggesting that sunset/sunrise provides the primary directional reference by which a magnetic compass is calibrated daily. We demonstrate that homing greater mouse-eared bats (Myotis myotis) calibrate a magnetic compass with sunset cues by testing their homing response after exposure to an altered magnetic field at and after sunset. Magnetic manipulation at sunset resulted in a counterclockwise shift in orientation compared with controls, consistent with sunset calibration of the magnetic field, whereas magnetic manipulation after sunset resulted in no change in orientation. Unlike in birds, however, the pattern of polarization was not necessary for the calibration. For animals that occupy ecological niches where the sunset is rarely observed, this is a surprising finding. Yet it may indicate the primacy of the sun as an absolute geographical reference not only for birds but also within other vertebrate taxa.

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document

Get full text

Authors

  • R. A. Holland

  • I. Borissov

  • B. M. Siemers

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free