Scientific Results

Do sandhoppers use the skylight polarization as a compass cue?

Year: 2013

Authors: Ugolini A., Galanti G., Mercatelli L.

Autors Affiliation: Dipartimento di Biologia, Università di Firenze, Firenze, Italy; Istituto Nazionale di Ottica РCNR, Firenze, Italy

Abstract: Investigations carried out in the 1950s on the use of polarized light by sandhoppers as a compass reference did not reach convincing results. Therefore, polarized light compass orientation in the sandhopper Talitrus saltator seems to be a traditional attribute more than a solid demonstration. Our tests carried out under artificial and natural conditions of illumination using different polarizing and neutral density (grey) filters demonstrated that T. saltator perceives polarized light; however, it does not use the skylight polarized light as a cue for menotactic orientation. However, since the sky spectral and luminance gradients were not completely eliminated in our tests, a possible influence of these two celestial factors of orientation could still be present. Therefore, we conclude that this species, in this experimental paradigm at least, does not use a polarized light compass mechanism, despite a very good sun compass system of orientation. (C) 2013 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Journal/Review: ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR

Volume: 86 (2)      Pages from: 427  to: 434

More Information: We thank Dr M. Dacke (Lund University) for her kind loan of the HN22 polarizing filter and Professor R. Jander (University of Kansas) for stimulating discussion on the manuscript. Thanks are also due to the Ente Parco Regionale di Migliarino, San Rossore, Massaciuccoli (Pisa) for authorization to collect sandhoppers. The research was financially supported by the University of Florence (local funds ex-60% assigned to A. Ugolini).
KeyWords: Orientation; Polarized light; Sandhopper; Talitrus saltator; Amphipod; Light effect; Luminescence; Orientation behavior
DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2013.05.037

Citations: 2
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