A functional role of the sky’s polarization pattern for orientation in the greater mouse-eared bat

Stefan Greif, Ivalio Borissov, Yossi Yovel, Richard Holland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Animals can call on a multitude of sensory information to orient and navigate. In some cases they may calibrate these cues against each other to establish the most accurate information available. One such cue is the pattern of polarized light in the sky, which may be used as a geographical reference to calibrate other cues in the compass mechanism. Mammals, however, have not been shown to use this cue, even though they do calibrate a magnetic compass with sunset. In this paper we demonstrate that bats use polarization cues at sunset to calibrate a magnetic compass, subsequently used for orientation during a homing experiment. It is thus the only mammal known so far to make use of the polarization pattern in the sky. This is an intriguing finding as currently there is no clear understanding of how this cue is perceived in this taxon and has general implications for the sensory biology of mammalian vision.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4488
Number of pages4
JournalNature Communications
Volume5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2014

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