Marsh frogs, Pelophylax ridibundus, determine migratory direction by magnetic field
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- Shakhparonov, V.V. & Ogurtsov, S.V. J Comp Physiol A (2017) 203: 35. doi:10.1007/s00359-016-1132-x
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Orientation by magnetic cues appears to be adaptive during animal migrations. Whereas the magnetic orientation in birds, mammals, and urodele amphibians is being investigated intensively, the data about anurans are still scarce. This study tests whether marsh frogs could determine migratory direction between the breeding pond and the wintering site by magnetic cues in the laboratory. Adult frogs (N = 32) were individually tested in the T-maze 127 cm long inside the three-axis Helmholtz coil system (diameter 3 m). The arms of the maze were positioned parallel to the natural migratory route of this population when measured in accordance with magnetic field. The frogs were tested under two-motivational conditions mediated by temperature/light regime: the breeding migratory state and the wintering state. The frogs’ choice in a T-maze was evident only when analyzed in accordance with the direction of the magnetic field: they moved along the migratory route to the breeding pond and followed the reversion of the horizontal component of the magnetic field. This preference has been detected in both sexes only in the breeding migratory state. This suggests that adult ranid frogs can obtain directional information from the Earth’s magnetic field as was shown earlier in urodeles and anuran larvae.