There has always been huge uncertainty as to how migrating animals learn where to go. The cuckoo is a perfect example, as the newly hatched birds must travel from Europe to The Congo Basin for the winter, but how do they know the way (as their parents departed sometime before and they travel on their own)? The route is not a straight one and they must stop as various places on the way to “refuel” (eat hairy caterpillars) in order to be able to cross the Sahara.
A recent piece of work by a team lead by A. . Kölzsch from Germany tracked a family of Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons)
This goose is a great migrator and winters (December to February) in Western Europe where the researchers were helped by colleagues in the Netherlands for this study. The geese migrate in the Spring to the High Artic where they breed from June. Like other species the autumn route is not the same as the spring migration.
The study wanted to research the “V” formation flying on these geese. The accepted theory is that they use this formation as the slip stream of birds flying in front aid birds flying behind. It has been shown that the lead birds take turns to lead. However, in this piece of work they show that in family groups (they found a family composed of a father, mother and two young), they discovered that the family fly in formation with the mother and father taking turns to lead the family group.
Recently Vera Brust, Bianca Michalik and Ommo Hüppop have produced a paper called “To cross or not to cross– thrushes at the German North Sea coast adapt flight and routing to wind conditions in autumn”.
They looked at some of the thrush family (blackbirds, redwings and song thrushes) that migrate across the North sea from the German North Sea coast to Britain at night during the autumn to escape the harsh winter conditions on the continent. This paper suggests that whilst there is definitely a genetic component to navigation, the birds preferred clear skies with a wind blowing from the west with favourable north wind component.
We also have two papers led by Alessandro Cresci, suggesting that Atlantic Haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) Larvae have a Magnetic Compass that Guides their Orientation and Glass Eels (Anguilla anguilla) imprint the magnetic direction of tidal currents from their juvenile estuaries. It appears that there is increasing evidence that a lot of sea creatures use magnetic cues to help with their navigation
Recently Prof Kate Jeffery, working with The Royal Institute of Navigation (RIN), gave a one day symposium at University College London.
Themes • How animals orient – perspectives from ethology and neuroscience • How humans orient – perspectives from cognitive neuroscience • Helping humans orient – perspectives from architecture and design • The future – building a more navigable world
Prof Kate Jeffery
Prof Kate Jeffery gave a great introduction telling us about all the important work that had laid the ground work for our knowledge of our navigational skills from a perspective of how the brain processes and interprets navigational information to enable navigation.
David Barrie, author of “Incredible Journeys”
David is very eloquent and his recent book is a great primer for everything going on in the navigation field. He is brave at describing areas where Science still does not know the answers.
Barbara Webb, University of Edinburgh.
Barbara Webb gave an enthralling description of the processing used by ants to find their way home and also to re-visit food sources. She showed the entangled structure of the ant brain and then showed how functionally it worked with super clarity.
Caswell Barry, University College London
This presentation tied in with the one by Barbara Webb on how animals can use the grid cells they have for navigation and used computer simulations to prove the point.
Eric Warrant, Lund University
Eric described the astonishing migration of the Australian Bogong Moth. You will find more about his work already published on this site see “Long distance Nocturnal navigator”.
She talked about how dementia changes people’s lives and that we should concentrate on what they can still do and what they can no longer do well.
Tim Fendley, Legible London
His firm does the signing and directional strategies for people navigating around cities etc. His firm designed the maps outside tube stations in London.
Tim Stonor, Space Syntax
Tim Stoner is an architect and interested in how cities work and why.
Niall McLaughlin, architect
This presentation was a fascinating description of the design effort his firm has put into designing spaces for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Posted inAnimal Migration|Comments Off on COGNITIVE NAVIGATION SYMPOSIUM: SENSE OF DIRECTION
Country Life Magazine (UK) issue July 24th 2019 had an article entitled “Every dog has its day”
Those who work closely with animals seem to have a very special relationship with them that may not agree well with established scientific thinking. Editor
Posted inAnimal Migration|Comments Off on “Those who work dogs in the field seem to enjoy a closer, sometimes telepathic relationship with their charges that ’s obvious if you know what to look for. A good huntsman’s rapport with his pack – “the golden thread” – is much admired, but so are the feats of gundogs indispensable to every day’s shooting”.
Vallerii Kanevskyi has written this fascinating paper that describes how animals navigate but not in the terms of analogies of human navigation such as GPS but in terms of the very essence of quantum mechanics and consciousness. I believe that this approach will in fact lead to a much better understanding of how animals actually navigate.
Richard Nissen editor
“Space Cue” hypothesis – a new approach to the bird navigation problem
It seems to me that we have got a real, though very slight opportunity to touch the Space, being the principal mystery of physics, by using the amazing biological phenomenon, namely, the navigation of living creatures.
The mystery of animal navigation remains unrevealed despite a large number of hypotheses and experiments. The clue to the navigation puzzle is contained in none of the available theories assuming the presence of sensors of a magnetic or gravitational field and the ability to memorize the position of stars, the landscape pattern, and the odours inherent in a definite place.
The problem of animal navigation is closely related to the unsolved fundamental problems of modern physics.
Proposed hypothesis of animal navigation is called Space Cue (SC) because it declares that the animal navigation mechanism is associated with the immanent fundamental physical properties of space (PPS) that physicists use to build a Unified Field Theory (the so-called “theory of ALL”). According to Unified Field Theory, gravitational, magnetic and electrical fields, constant and variable, have a common nature and are particular manifestations of the physical properties of space (PPS), which are discussed in the SC hypothesis.
Despite the fact that at present the physical aspects of the SC hypothesis are under study by theoretical physicists the consequences that follow from the SC hypothesis are of great interest for both biology and physics.
1. Background and objectives
1.1. “Space Cue” hypothesis
“Space Cue” hypothesis declares the use of physical properties of the space by living creatures for their navigation.
1.2. What are the physical properties of the space (PPS)?
As distinct from biologists, physicists and mathematicians paid a particular attention for a long time to the study of physical, geometric, and topological properties of the space -Aristotle,Newton, Mach, Leibniz, Einstein.
The first experiments to study the physical properties of space were carried out on a cosmic scale to demonstrate the property of space to become curved in accordance with Einstein’s theory of relativity .
Later astrophysicists discovered dark matter in space, which constitutes more than half the mass of the universe. According to theoretical physicists, this matter is a manifestation of the properties of space that are unknown today.
Today, space properties are studied not only on a cosmic scale, but also on a scale of ordinary life.
Laboratory experiments have demonstrated amazing physical properties of vacuum space. In 1948, Dutch physicist Hendrick Casimir predicted that the vacuum space is not empty (the Casimir Effect). In 1996 it was proved experimentally at Los Alamos National Laboratory . According to the quantum theory of the vacuum, its physical properties are revealed in the spontaneous creation of virtual particles and antiparticles of different types.
Under the action of an external physical field on the vacuum, the creation of real particles and antiparticles can be observed.
At the present time, the physical properties of the vacuum attract a high attention: the vacuum is probed by femtosecond lasers with giant power (10+22 W) and by strong Coulomb fields, which leads to the creation of real different elementary particles from the vacuum (from «nothing») including the photons of electromagnetic field .
“Emptiness is everything” has become a popular saying among physicists.
Particular interest are physical experiments testifying the possibility of studies of amazing physical properties of empty space inside graphene film at ordinary laboratory, without use of extreme physical conditions, and on scales of interatomic space that is commensurate with the scaleof the space inside biomolecules and the living cell .
Unfortunately, as distinct from physicists and mathematicians, biologists did not paid attention to physical properties of the space.
Although the study of the mysterious properties of space is at the very beginning biologists are given a unique chance to participate in these fundamental research with physicists and the presented SC hypothesis can be considered the first such example.
Therefore, SC hypothesis may have consequences for both biology and physics.
1.3. Consequences that follow from Space Cue (SC) hypothesis for biology and physics
SC hypothesis unites all available hypotheses about the navigation of animals that involve the magnetic (M), gravitational (G), or electric (E) fields of the Earth in the frame of a single conception and asserts their consistency in view of the united nature of the M, G, and E fields based on physical properties of the space (PPS)According to Unified Field Theory [5,6].
SC hypothesis can be the first step to the construction of the Unified Theory of the Navigation of animals.
SC hypothesis declares that animals can use completely different principles to navigate as compared with the navigation technology used in the human civilization.
Therefore, it is a mistake to look for biological analogues of existing navigation instruments such as magnetic compass, gyroscope, or GPS.
SC hypothesis can be the first step on the way to design new technological navigation toolsbased on sensing of PPS.
SC hypothesis assumes that animals can directly detect PPS with the help of a particularized biosensor, or receive information about PPS indirectly by detecting of magnetic, gravitational and electrical fields, which are particular manifestations of the PPS.
The most probable pretender to the role of a biosensor of PPS can be a brain and/or its separate cells. Totest this assumption, it is planned to carry out lab. experiments with neurohybrid – neuronal cell culture integrated with MEMS (Micro Electrical and Mechanical System) .
The goal of lab. experiments with neurohybrid is to study the electrophysiological response of neuronal cell culture to variation of artificially created local gravitational field.
This study is based on the molecular mechanisms of cell sensitivity to gravity and on the relationship of the gravity to PPS.
The experiment with neuronal cell cultures and gravity is important to understand the biophysical mechanism of SC hypothesis because it touches upon the fundamental physical problem of different behaviour of gravity on a large and small scale.
The first to suggest a difference in the behaviour of gravity on large and small scales was Tilloy who wanted to combine quantum theory with relativism .
Lab.experiments with neuronalcell culture and artificially created local gravitational field are consonant with the physical experiments conducted by National Institute of Standards and Technology (USA)to study the properties of gravity on a small scale of 100-1000 nm and their difference from properties for large scales .
Because a small scale of 100-1000 nm corresponds to the size of neuron and its internal components, experiments with neuronal cell culture and gravity as manifestation of PPS are important to study the molecular mechanism of SC hypothesis on the scale of alive cell.
In this case, we may say not only about physical properties of the habitat spaceof animals, but also about the physical properties of local intrinsic space of brain and intrinsic space ofneurons.The physical properties of the listed spaces are closely related but may differ and according to SC hypothesis the physical properties of the listed spaces can be used by animals to navigate.
Taking into account that the consciousness is the principal property of a brain and that the brain is the most probable pretender to the role of a biosensor of PPS it is logical to assume that the consciousness can play important role in sensing of PPS and animal navigation.
SC hypothesis will stimulate the revision of the results of previous navigation experiments executed to verify separately the magnetism-, gravity-, or electricity-based theories of navigation of animals.
The target of a revision will be the search for a correlationbetween the results of experiments oriented to the support of magnetism-, gravity-, or electricity-based theories of navigation.
The discovery of such correlationwill testify that animals feel something that joins the magnetic, gravitational, and electric fields of the Earth. The presence of a correlation will confirm the SC hypothesis about the ability of animals to feel PPS because according to the United Field Theory, magnetic, gravitational, and electric fields have the common nature underlying PPS.
SC hypothesis stimulate to perform new real field and laboratory experiments for its verification. New experiments are based on the effect of different combinations of magnetic (M), gravity (G) and electric (E) fields constant and/or variable in time on the navigation ability of animals and on biophysical characteristics of their brains.
SC hypothesis is thefirst step to build Unified Navigation Theory of animal, based on fundamental physical theory – Unified Field Theory.
SC hypothesis is a first attempt to use the physical properties of the space for the explanation of biological phenomena.
2. Experimental research
SC hypothesis leads to the necessity to perform new experiments for its verification, where the effect of different combinations of magnetic, gravity and electric fields constant and/or variable in time on the navigation ability of animals and on biophysical characteristics of their brains and neuronal cell culture will be investigated.
The proposed scheme of newexperiments is the advanced version used in 1984-2012 in Ukraine to prove “Gravity Vector navigation theory”[10,11,12]. The gravitational hypothesis of navigation proposed in 1984became the motivator for the development of “Space Cue” hypothesis . Advanced version of gravity-based navigation theory of far migrant birds was presented in RIN13 .
In the previous experiments the influence of constant magnetic and gravitational fields of anomalies on the navigation of birds was studied. The procedure of experiments involved the real-time GPS monitoring of a flight path and the course of a homing pigeon in real flight conditions.
2.1. Full-scale real flight experiments performed on Ukrainian geophysical test grounds to verify Gravity Vector Navigation Model (1984-2012)
a- choosing the right direction to the loft leads to the most rapid decrease in the angle α between the current direction of a gravity vector (Gcurrent) and the direction of the gravity vector at the loft (GL).
Blue disc (bio-gyroscope) “memorizes” the direction of the gravity vector at the loft (GL). Gravity vector (G) changes its direction in the area of the anomaly (Gcurrent).
b- this vector splits into two components: horizontal projection of the gravity anomaly vector (GAh) and the gravity vector (G) directed to the center of Globe. New flight direction is defined by decreasing the angle α.
Experiment 1. Ukraine, 1985 . Real-time remote monitoring of EEG and the location of a bird in gravity anomaly area.
Experiment 2.(2010-2012) .
Homing pigeon navigation experiments conducted in Ukraine in gravity and magnetic anomalies area (2010-2012).
Experiment 3(2010-2011) 
Fig.3. Real-time GPS monitoring of pigeon’s flight path (light blue tracks) in the area of overlapping of the gravity and magnetic anomalies. Ukraine geophysical test ground, 2011. The ambiguous reaction of the pigeon to the hybrid gravity-magnetic anomaly is well traced: in one case, the pigeon crosses it without any change in the flight direction and flies round it in another case.
Performed experiments show that the birds in their free flight can feel weak changes in the gravity field against the background of large inertial forces caused by periodic sharp accelerations of their bodies during the flight due to wingbeats.
To explain this experimental result, SChypothesis assumes that birds can feel the nature of gravity and distinguish it from the nature of inertia forces.
Such an assumption does not contradict the principle of equivalence declaring the identity of manifestation ofthe forces of inertia and gravity for an external observer .
But the principle of equivalence does not deny the possibility of a difference in the physical nature of inertia and gravity forces.
Taking into account that the nature of gravity is a manifestation of properties of the space, it is possible to assume that above experimental results support the hypothesis about the ability of birds to feel physical properties of the space.
However, the previous experiments gave no answer about the ability of birdsto sense PPS.
To study this ability, it is necessary to find correlations between the variations of electrophysiological response of bird’s brain and flight navigation parameters to different combinations of M, G, and E fields constant and variable in time. To do this we have to use basically different schemes of experiments and different equipment.
2.2. The full-scale real flight and laboratory experiments proposed for 2020-2023 to verify SC hypothesis
To verify the ability of birds to sense PPS and to use it for navigation.
How to achieve the goal?
To prove the ability of birds to sense PPS, the special full-scale real flight and laboratory experiments will be performed to verify the effect of different combinations of M, G and E fields which can be constant and variable in time on the navigation ability of birds and on electrical characteristics of their brains and on the electrical activity of bird’s neuronal cell culture.
The results of experiments will be processed in order to find a correlationbetween the variations of electrophysiological responses of brain and neuronal cell culture to the effect of different combinations of M, G, and E fields constant and variable in time.
The correlation between the variations of navigation parameters of the flight of bird (course and altitude) under the influence of different combinations of M, G and E fields which can be constant and variable in time will also be studied.
The presence of the above correlationswill testify that birds feel something common that unites M, G, and E fields. According to the United Field Theory, M, G and E fields have the common nature underlying PPS.
Therefore, the presence of the above correlationswill confirm the ability of birdsto sense PPS.
Principal distinctions from previous experiments:
– real-time monitoring of navigation parameters and electrophysiological characteristics of pigeon’s brain in a real flight during the earthquake event;
– real-time monitoring of navigation parameters and electrophysiological characteristics of pigeon’s brain in a real flight during the moon tide event;
– real-time monitoring of navigation parameters and electrophysiological characteristics of pigeon’s brain in a real flight at the action of natural magnetic and gravity anomalies jointly with the action of various frequency electromagnetic artificial fields.
Generator of electromagnetic fields will be installed over one of the G and M anomalies to combine the electromagnetic fields of different frequencies with constant gravitational and magnetic fields of geophysical anomalies of the Earth;
– a pigeon will be equipped with miniature Deep Brain recording integrated with EEG telemetry system and GPS to study electrophysiological characteristics of the brain in a real flight;
– different geophysical test grounds in Ukraine, Indonesia and Canada will be used for new experiments.
2.2.1. The full-scale real flight experiments
A pigeon with good navigation abilities will be chosen for new experiments.
A pigeon will be equipped with a miniature “EEG and Deep Brain recording telemetry system” assembled with GPS. Equipment will be used for the real-time monitoring of brain’s electrical activity and variations in the flight course (Photo 1).
Pigeon’s release point will be chosen so that the pigeon will cross the gravity and magnetic anomalies on the way to loft.
In case of “earthquake” and “moon tide” experiments an earthquake or moon tide events willcatch a pigeon on the way to the home.
Ukraine geophysical test grounds with gravity and magnetic anomalies.
New experiments will be directed to the study of the effect of different combinations of M and G fields of the Earth on the navigation ability and electrical characteristics of pigeon’s brain under free-flight conditions and will be carried in Ukraine on some geophysical test sites with intersecting and non-intersecting strong gravity and magnetic anomalies.
Special experiments will be carried out using a generator of electromagnetic fields installed over one of the G and M anomalies to combine the electromagnetic fields of different frequencies with constant gravitational and magnetic fields of geophysical anomalies of the Earth (Fig.4).
Of particular interest will be the experiments studying the effects of different combinations of M and G anomalies in combination with artificial electromagnetic fields on the electrophysiological activity of pigeon’s brain under free-flight conditions.
It should be noted that a separate effect of the 1.4-Mz radio frequency electromagnetic field on bird’s navigation has already been studied .
On the way to the home, a pigeon will be affected by different combinations of artificial electromagnetic field combined with constant magnetic and gravitational fields of gravitational and magnetic anomalies.
a, b – combination of artificial electromagnetic field with overlapping constant gravitational (a) and magnetic (b) fields of anomaly.
c- combination of artificial electromagnetic field with constant “ring-shape” anomaly of gravitational field.
– generator of artificial electromagnetic field.
Canada (Bay of Fundy) moon tide test site
To study the effect of time-variable G field of the Earth on the navigation ability and electrical characteristics of animal’sbrain under free-flight conditions in the Bay of Fundy (Canada) during the moon tide event (Fig.5).
The scheme of experiment
On the way to the home (Fig.5, red line), a pigeon will be affected by time-variable gravity field created by the moon tide.
The gravitational field of the rising wall of water creates an additional horizontal component to the vertical Gravity Vector of the Earth which can lead to a deviation of the flight course from the direction to the home.
Indonesia (Sumatra) earthquake test site
In Sumatra (Indonesia), earthquakes occur weekly.
Characteristics of magnetic, gravitational and electrical fields of the Earth simultaneously and dramatically change in time during the earthquake event.
Experiments to study the effect of a simultaneously influence of time-variable M, G, and E fields of the Earth on the navigation ability and electrical characteristics of homing pigeon’s brains under free-flight conditions will be carried out in the seismic active area near Sumatra (Indonesia) during earthquake events.
According to the scheme of experiment, the earthquake catches a pigeon on the way to the home and a pigeon will be simultaneously affected by the time-variable gravitational, magnetic, and electrical fields of the Earth.
2.2.2. Laboratory experiments proposed for 2020-2023
The discovery of correlations between the electrophysiological responses of animal’s brain and neuronal cell culture to the influence of different combinations of M, G, and E fields constant and variable in time.
Experiments with animals
The scheme of experiment provides for the use of two animals that are very different in navigation abilities to move long distances.
In view of the big difference in the navigation abilities of birds migrating on great distances and rodents permanently living on a bounded territory, we will study SC navigation mechanism by comparing the differences in the electric response of brain of a pigeon and a mouse to the influence of different combinations of the artificially created variations of the gravitational, magnetic, and electrical fields. The electric response of brain will be studied in laboratory by measurements of EEG and deep-brain signals (Photo 2).
Experiment with a neuronal cell culture
SC hypothesis considers the possibility to study PPS on the scale of alive cells. This admission is based on the molecular mechanisms ofcell sensitivity to gravityand on the relationship of the gravity to PPS.
The modern biotechnology allows one to grow a network of neurons as a separate culture of cells and integrate it with MEMS (Micro Electrical and Mechanical System). The results of such integration is «neurohybrid» [16,17]. A neurohybrid can possesses some elements of the consciousnessand experiments demonstrate their abilities to control the movement of unmanned vehicle and drawing the pictures .
The use of neuronal cell culture and neurohybrids in experiments aimed at the study of the cellular and molecular mechanism of navigation of animalsbased on sensing of PPS and the discovery of the biosensor of physical properties of the space is of doubtless interest for physics and biology.
Experiments with a neuronal cell culture are of particular interest for the comprehension of cellular and molecular mechanisms of reception of the M, G and E fields as partial cases of the manifestation of PPS.
The scheme of experiment provides to study of the influence of artificial electromagnetic fields in various frequency regions in a combination with artificially created local variations of the gravitational, magnetic and electrical fields on the electrical characteristics of neuronal cell culture of pigeon and mouse.
The electrophysiological response of neuronal cell culture of pigeon’s and mouse brainwill be studied by using Multi Electrode Arrays hardware (MEA-CMOS-System) (Photo 3) .
Photo 3. Multi Electrode Arrays hardware (CMOS-MEA5000-System).
CMOS-MEA-System will be integrated with special Electro-Mechanical equipment to provide artificially created local variations of the gravitational, magnetic, and electrical fields in close proximity to neuronal cell culture and to the brain of experimental animals.
MEA-CMOS software will be used to find a correlation between the electrophysiological responses of neuronal cell culture and animal brain to the influence of different combinations of the gravitational, magnetic, and electrical fields constant and variable in time.
1. The discovery of correlations between the electrophysiological responses of brain and neuronal cell culture to the influence of different combinations of the gravitational, magnetic, and electrical fields constant and variable in time.
2. The discovery of correlation between the variations of navigation parameters of the flight of bird (course and altitude) under the influence of different combinations of magnetic, gravity and electric fields constant and variable in time.
3. Confirmation of SC hypothesis on the base of above correlations that prove the ability of birds to feel something common that unites gravitational, magnetic, and electrical fields.
According to the United Field Theory,gravitational, magnetic, and electrical fieldshave the common nature underlying PPS.
Therefore, the presence of the above correlations will confirm the ability of birds to sense PPS on the organism and cellular levels.
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Posted inHow animals navigate|Comments Off on “Space Cue” hypothesis – a new approach to the bird navigation problem – Vallerii Kanevskyi
Bauer, S., Shamoun-Baranes, J., Nilsson, C., Farnsworth, A., Kelly, J. F., Reynolds, D. R., Dokter, A. M., Krauel, J. F., Petterson, L. B., Horton, K. G. & Chapman, J. W. 2019 The grand challenges of migration ecology that radar aeroecology can help answer. Ecography42, 861-875. doi: 10.1111/ecog.04083. Bauer9 2019
Many migratory species have experienced substantial declines that resulted from rapid and massive expansions of human structures and activities, habitat alterations and climate change. Migrants are also recognized as an integral component of biodiversity and provide a multitude of services and disservices that are relevant to human agriculture, economy and health. The plethora of recently published studies reflects the need for better fundamental knowledge on migrations and for better management of their ecological and human-relevant effects. Yet, where are we in providing answers to fundamental questions and societal challenges? Engaging a broad network of researchers worldwide, we used a horizon-scan approach to identify the most important challenges which need to be overcome in order to gain a fuller understanding of migration ecology, and which could be addressed using radar aeroecological and macroecological approaches. The top challenges include both long-standing and novel topics, ranging from fundamental information on migration routes and phenology, orientation and navigation strategies, and the multitude of effects migrants may have on resident communities, to societal challenges, such as protecting or preventing migrant services and disservices, and the conservation of migrants in the face of environmental changes. We outline these challenges, identify the urgency of addressing them and the primary stakeholders – researchers, policy makers and practitioners, or funders of research.
Nilsson, C., Dokter, A. M., Verlinden, L., Shamoun-Baranes, J., Schmid, B., Desmet, P., Bauer, S., Chapman, J., Alves, J. A., Stepanian, P. M., Sapir, N., Wainwright, C., Boos, M., Górska, A., Menz, M. H. M., Rodrigues, P., Leijnse, H., Zehtindjiev, P., Brabant, R., Haase, G., Weisshaupt, N., Ciach, M. & Liechti, F. 2019 Revealing patterns of nocturnal migration using the European weather radar network. Ecography42, 876-886. doi: 10.1111/ecog.04003. Nilsson10 2019
Nocturnal avian migration flyways remain an elusive concept, as we have largely lacked methods to map their full extent. We used the network of European weather radars to investigate nocturnal bird movements at the scale of the European flyway. We mapped the main migration directions and showed the intensity of movement across part of Europe by extracting biological information from 70 weather radar stations from northern Scandinavia to Portugal, during the autumn migration season of 2016. On average, over the 20 nights and all sites, 389 birds passed per 1 km transect per hour. The night with highest migration intensity showed an average of 1621 birds km–1 h–1 passing the radar stations, but there was considerable geographical and temporal variation in migration intensity. The highest intensity of migration was seen in central France. The overall migration directions showed strong southwest components. Migration dynamics were strongly related to synoptic wind conditions. A wind-related mass migration event occurred immediately after a change in wind conditions, but quickly diminished even when supporting winds continued to prevail. This first continental-scale study using the European network of weather radars demonstrates the wealth of information available and its potential for investigating large-scale bird movements, with consequences for ecosystem function, nutrient transfer, human and livestock health, and civil and military aviation.
Hüppop, O., Ciach, M., Diehl, R., Reynolds, D. R., Stepanian, P. M. & Menz, M. H. M. 2019 Perspectives and challenges for the use of radar in biological conservation. Ecography42, 912-930. doi: 10.1111/ecog.04063.
Hüppop1 2019 Radar is at the forefront for the study of broad-scale aerial movements of birds, bats and insects and related issues in biological conservation.
Radar techniques are especially useful for investigating species which fly at high altitudes, in darkness, or which are too small for applying electronic tags. Here, we present an overview of radar applications in biological conservation and highlight its future possibilities. Depending on the type of radar, information can be gathered on local- to continental-scale movements of airborne organisms and their behaviour. Such data can quantify flyway usage, biomass and nutrient transport (bioflow), population sizes, dynamics and distributions, times and dimensions of movements, areas and times of mass emergence and swarming, habitat use and activity ranges. Radar also captures behavioural responses to anthropogenic disturbances, artificial light and man-made structures. Weather surveillance and other long-range radar networks allow spatially broad overviews of important stopover areas, songbird mass roosts and emergences from bat caves. Mobile radars, including repurposed marine radars and commercially dedicated ‘bird radars’, offer the ability to track and monitor the local movements of individuals or groups of flying animals. Harmonic radar techniques have been used for tracking short-range movements of insects and other small animals of conservation interest. However, a major challenge in aeroecology is determining the taxonomic identity of the targets, which often requires ancillary data obtained from other methods. Radar data have become a global source of information on ecosystem structure, composition, services and function and will play an increasing role in the monitoring and conservation of flying animals and threatened habitats worldwide.
Ferguson, A., Reed, T. E., Cross, T. F., Mcginnity, P. & Prodöhl, P. A. 2019 Anadromy, potamodromy and residency in brown trout Salmo trutta: the role of genes and the environment. Journal of Fish Biology0. doi: 10.1111/jfb.14005. Ferguson6 2019
Brown trout Salmo trutta is endemic to Europe, western Asia, north-western Africa and is a prominent member of freshwater and coastal marine fish faunas. The species shows two resident (river-resident, lake-resident) and three main facultative migratory life histories (downstream–upstream within a river system, fluvial–adfluvial potamodromous; to and from a lake, lacustrine–adfluvial (inlet)–allucustrine (outlet) potamodromous; to and from the sea, anadromous). River-residency v. migration is a balance between enhanced feeding and thus growth advantages of migration to a particular habitat v. the costs of potentially greater mortality and energy expenditure. Fluvial–adfluvial migration usually has less feeding improvement, but less mortality risk, than lacustrine–adfluvial–allacustrine and anadromous, but the latter vary among catchments as to which is favoured. Indirect evidence suggests that around 50% of the variability in S. trutta migration v. residency, among individuals within a population, is due to genetic variance. This dichotomous decision can best be explained by the threshold-trait model of quantitative genetics. Thus, an individual’s physiological condition (e.g., energy status) as regulated by environmental factors, genes and non-genetic parental effects, acts as the cue. The magnitude of this cue relative to a genetically predetermined individual threshold, governs whether it will migrate or sexually mature as a river-resident. This decision threshold occurs early in life and, if the choice is to migrate, a second threshold probably follows determining the age and timing of migration. Migration destination (mainstem river, lake, or sea) also appears to be genetically programmed. Decisions to migrate and ultimate destination result in a number of subsequent consequential changes such as parr–smolt transformation, sexual maturity and return migration. Strong associations with one or a few genes have been found for most aspects of the migratory syndrome and indirect evidence supports genetic involvement in all parts. Thus, migratory and resident life histories potentially evolve as a result of natural and anthropogenic environmental changes, which alter relative survival and reproduction. Knowledge of genetic determinants of the various components of migration in S. trutta lags substantially behind that ofOncorhynchus mykiss and other salmonids. Identification of genetic markers linked to migration components and especially to the migration–residency decision, is a prerequisite for facilitating detailed empirical studies. In order to predict effectively, through modelling, the effects of environmental changes, quantification of the relative fitness of different migratory traits and of their heritabilities, across a range of environmental conditions, is also urgently required in the face of the increasing pace of such changes.
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