Depolarization of natural skylight disrupts orientation of an avian nocturnal migrant

Summary

Given a view of clear evening skies, migratory blackcaps (Aves:Sylvia atricapilla) orient appropriately in the absence of meaningful information from the geomagnetic field. When the intensity of natural skylight polarization patterns was reduced with pseudodepolarizers by over 90%, test birds were disoriented, and their migratory restlessness in autumn was drastically reduced.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. 1

    Brines, M., J. theor. Biol.86 (1980) 371.

    Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Brines, M., and Gould, J., J. exp. Biol.96 (1982) 69.

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Waterman, T. H., in: Handbook of Sensory Physiology, vol. VII/6B, p. 281. Ed. H. Autrum. Springer Verlag, Heidelberg 1981.

    Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Moore, F. R., Anim. Behav.33 (1985) 657.

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Able, K. P., and Cherry, J. D., J. comp. Physiol159A (1986) 107.

    Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Montgomery, K. C., and Heinemann, E. G., Science116 (1952) 454.

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Kreithen, M. L., and Keeton, W. T., J. comp. Physiol.89 (1974) 83.

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Delius, J., Perchard, R., and Emmerton, J., J. comp. physiol. Psychol.90 (1976) 560.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    Able, K. P., Nature299 (1982) 550.

    Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Emlen, S. T., and Emlen, J. T., Auk83 (1966) 361.

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Moore, F. R., Condor88 (1986) 493.

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    Moore, F. R., and Phillips, J. B., Anim. Behav.36 (1988) 1770.

    Google Scholar 

  13. 13

    Helbig, A. J., and Wiltschko, W., Naturwissenschaften76 (1989) 227.

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    Able, K. P., J. exp. Biol.141 (1989) 241.

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15

    Shurcliff, W. A., Polarized Light: Production and Use. Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1962.

    Google Scholar 

  16. 16

    Helbig, A. J., Dissertation. Frankfurt/M., 1989.

  17. 17

    Viehmann, W., Behaviour68 (1979) 24.

    Google Scholar 

  18. 18

    Batschelet, E., Circular Statistics in Biology. Academic Press, London 1981.

    Google Scholar 

  19. 19

    Zink, G., Der Zug europäischer Singvögel, vol. 1. Möggingen, 1973.

  20. 20

    Wiltschko, R., and Wiltschko, W., Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol.9 (1981) 135.

    Google Scholar 

  21. 21

    Bingman, V. P., Monit. zool. ital., (N. S.)17 (1983) 395.

    Google Scholar 

  22. 22

    Able, K. P., and Bingman, V. P., Proc. 19th Int. Orn. Congr. 1988, p. 1932.

  23. 23

    Wiltschko, W., and Wiltschko, R., Current Orn.5 (1988) 67.

    Google Scholar 

  24. 24

    Waterman, T. H., and Forward, R. B. Jr, Exp. Zool.180 (1972) 33.

    Google Scholar 

  25. 25

    Alder, K., and Taylor, D. H., J. comp. Physiol.87 (1973) 203.

    Google Scholar 

  26. 26

    Taylor, D. H., and Adler, K., Science181 (1973) 285.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  27. 27

    Adler, K., and Phillips, J. B., J. comp. Physiol.156A (1985) 547.

    Google Scholar 

  28. 28

    Haidinger, W., Annln Phys. Chem.63 (1844) 29.

    Google Scholar 

  29. 29

    Frisch, K. von, Experientia5 (1949) 142.

    Google Scholar 

  30. 30

    Rossel, S., and Wehner, R., Nature323 (1986) 128.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Helbig, A.J. Depolarization of natural skylight disrupts orientation of an avian nocturnal migrant. Experientia 46, 755–758 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01939958

Download citation

Key words

  • Orientation
  • skylight polarization
  • bird migration
  • pseudodepolarizer
  • Sylvia atricapilla