Animal navigation: Pitfalls and remedies

Cheung, A., Zhang, S., Stricker, C. and Srinivasan, M. V. (2007). Animal navigation: Pitfalls and remedies. In: Proceedings of the Annual Meeting - Institute of Navigation. The 63rd Annual Meeting of the Institute of Navigation, Cambridge, MA, U.S.A., (270-279). 23- 25 April, 2007.

Author Cheung, A.
Zhang, S.
Stricker, C.
Srinivasan, M. V.
Title of paper Animal navigation: Pitfalls and remedies
Conference name The 63rd Annual Meeting of the Institute of Navigation
Conference location Cambridge, MA, U.S.A.
Conference dates 23- 25 April, 2007
Proceedings title Proceedings of the Annual Meeting - Institute of Navigation
Journal name Proceedings of the Annual Meeting - Institute of Navigation
Place of Publication Cambridge, MA, U.S.A.
Publisher Institute of Navigation Publication Dept.
Publication Year 2007
Sub-type Fully published paper
ISBN 1604232862
Issue 1
Start page 270
End page 279
Total pages 10
Collection year 2008
Language eng
Abstract/Summary In principle, there are two kinds of strategies for navigating a straight course. One is to orient by means of an external directional reference, such as a compass. The other is to infer body rotations from internal sensory information only. In either case, animals would make errors during navigation due to the unavoidable presence of biological noise at the sensory, processing or motor levels. We show here, however, that the two strategies differ dramatically in their susceptibility to noise. While a compass-based strategy will enable an animal to travel arbitrarily far away from its starting point, a compassless strategy will not. Our findings indicate that, except for very short journeys, an external directional reference - some form of compass is indispensable for ensuring progress away from home. This limitation must place significant constraints on the evolution of biological navigation systems. On the basis of these findings, we postulate that any biologically plausible path integrator must be made up of a compass and an odometer. In evolutionary terms, there must have been immense selective pressure to evolve sensory apparatus which can yield allocentric direction information. Therefore, despite some of the advantages of developing idiothetic senses for various tasks, navigation or otherwise, it would seem that a compass has far greater biological value than any idiothetic sensory apparatus in the context of navigation.
Subjects 380101 Sensory Processes, Perception and Performance
780108 Behavioural and cognitive sciences
17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Q-Index Code E1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code

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Created: Tue, 06 May 2008, 13:23:14 EST by Debra McMurtrie on behalf of Queensland Brain Institute