HOME >> BIOLOGY >> NEWS
Light guides flight of migratory birds

Blacksburg, Va. -- Songbirds use multiple sources of directional cues to guide their seasonal migrations, including the Sun, star patterns, the earth's magnetic field, and sky polarized light patterns. To avoid navigational errors as cue availability changes with time of day and weather conditions, these "compass" systems must be calibrated to a common reference. Experiments over the last 30 years have failed to resolve the fundamental question of how migratory birds integrate multiple sources of directional information into a coherent navigational system.

Last autumn, Rachel Muheim, a postdoctoral associate in biology professor John Phillips' lab at Virginia Tech, captured Savannah sparrows in the Yukon before they headed south. She was able to demonstrate that the birds calibrate their magnetic compass based on polarized light patterns at sunset and sunrise.

The research appears in the Aug. 11, 2006, issue of Science, in the article, "Polarized Light Cues Underlie Compass Calibration in Migratory Songbirds," by Muheim, Phillips, and Suzanne Akesson. Muheim did her Ph.D. work at Lund University in Sweden with Akesson, who made the Alaska trip possible.

Polarized light is light that oscillates in one plane relative to the direction of propagation. At sunrise and sunset, there is a band of intense polarized light 90 degrees from the sun that passes directly overhead through the zenith and intersects the horizon 90 degrees to the right and left of the sun. Just as the sun location changes with latitude and the time of year, so does the alignment of the band of polarized light.

Muheim and Phillips argue that migratory songbirds average the sunrise and sunset intersections of the polarization band with the horizon to find the north-south meridian (geographic north-south axis), providing a reference that is independent of time of year and latitude. The birds then use this geographic reference to calibrate their other compass sy
'"/>

Contact: Susan Trulove
STrulove@vt.edu
540-231-5646
Virginia Tech
10-Aug-2006


Page: 1 2 3

Related biology news :

1. Light sticks may lure turtles to fishing lines
2. Light-activated therapy targets DNA components
3. Light-activated compound silences nerves, may one day help epileptics
4. Lighting up life: Cold Spring Harbor Protocols presents tips for creating glowing plants
5. Light-Activated Tissue Regeneration and Therapy -- II
6. Lighting up the heart
7. Light-to-moderate prenatal alcohol exposure can lead to cognitive deficits 10 years later
8. Light activated anticancer drug targeted to DNA using cisplatin like sub-units
9. Light-sensing cells in retina develop before vision
10. Light exercise a tonic to keep the brain young
11. Light-induced hormone surge points to benefits of light therapy

Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:6/16/2019)... , ... June 14, 2019 , ... ... invited to lecture at the fifth annual Neodent World Congress. Attended by thousands ... innovative progress and latest advancements in the world of dentistry. The three-day event ...
(Date:6/11/2019)... , ... June 12, 2019 , ... ... antibody discovery services, Abveris plans to leverage the Geneious Biologics platform as a ... Souders, Chief Technology Officer at Abveris, says: “The Geneious team has done an ...
(Date:6/4/2019)... ... June 04, 2019 , ... In’Tech Medical SAS ( ... Q1-19 revenues of $31M, up 12% from Q1-18. The growth is associated with ... & operational excellence initiatives worldwide. , Laurent Pruvost , President & CEO ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/11/2019)... ... June 11, 2019 , ... ... Stem Cells Inc. (PSC) , has announced that their GMP facility for cell ... Drug Branch for manufacturing. This is an important milestone for VetStem as ...
(Date:5/31/2019)... ... May 29, 2019 , ... ... applications from the USPTO providing proprietary interest to our methodology, processes, and ... DISORDER DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT… extends Somnology’s IP rights including our proprietary sleep ...
(Date:5/22/2019)... ... May 22, 2019 , ... Artemis (formerly Agrilyst), the ... Series A funding round co-led by Astanor Ventures and Talis Capital ... and iSelect Fund . The company has raised $11.75m to date and ...
(Date:5/14/2019)... ... May 13, 2019 , ... Leak Detection Associates ... the Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology, Medical Device and Food Packaging Industries’ is excited to announce ... to improve LDA’s ability to communicate directly with the marketplace; serving as a ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
Cached News: