Animal navigation: how animals use environmental factors to find their way
FB Biowissenschaften, Goethe Universität Frankfurt, Max-von-Laue-Str. 13, 60438, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Accepted: 13 May 2022
Published online: 20 June 2022
Animals use the geomagnetic field and astronomical cues to obtain compass information. The magnetic compass is not a uniform mechanism, as several functional modes have been described in different animal groups. The Sun compass requires the internal clock to interpret the position of the Sun. For star compass orientation, night-migrating birds seem to use the star pattern as a whole, without involving the internal clock. Both the astronomical compass mechanisms are based on learning processes to adapt them to the geographic latitude where the animals live and, in long-living animals, to compensate for the seasonal changes. Several mechanisms are used to determine the compass course to a goal. Using information collected during the outward journey is mostly done by path integration: recording the direction with a compass and integrating its twists and turns. Migratory animals have innate programs to guide them to their still unknown goal. Highly mobile animals with large ranges develop a so-called navigational ‘map’, a mental representation of the spatial distribution of navigational factors within their home region and their migration route. The nature of the factors involved is not yet entirely clear; magnetic intensity and inclination are the ones best supported so far.
© The Author(s) 2022
Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.