Ontogenetic development of magnetic compass orientation in domestic chickens (Gallus gallus)

Denzau, Susanne, Nießner, Christine, Rogers, Lesley J. and Wiltschko, Wolfgang (2013) Ontogenetic development of magnetic compass orientation in domestic chickens (Gallus gallus). Journal of Experimental Biology, 216 16: 3143-3147. doi:10.1242/jeb.088815

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Author Denzau, Susanne
Nießner, Christine
Rogers, Lesley J.
Wiltschko, Wolfgang
Title Ontogenetic development of magnetic compass orientation in domestic chickens (Gallus gallus)
Formatted title
Ontogenetic development of magnetic compass orientation in domestic chickens (Gallus gallus)
Journal name Journal of Experimental Biology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0022-0949
Publication date 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1242/jeb.088815
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 216
Issue 16
Start page 3143
End page 3147
Total pages 5
Place of publication Cambridge, United Kingdom
Publisher The Company of Biologists
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Domestic chickens (Gallus gallus) can be trained to search for a social stimulus in a specific magnetic direction, and cryptochrome 1a, found in the retina, has been proposed as a receptor molecule mediating magnetic directions. The present study combines immuno-histochemical and behavioural data to analyse the ontogenetic development of this ability. Newly hatched chicks already have a small amount of cryptochrome 1a in their violet cones; on day 5, the amount of cryptochrome 1a reached the same level as in adult chickens, suggesting that the physical basis for magnetoreception is present. In behavioural tests, however, young chicks 5 to 7 days old failed to show a preference of the training direction; on days 8, 9 and 12, they could be successfully trained to search along a specific magnetic axis. Trained and tested again 1 week later, the chicks that had not shown a directional preference on days 5 to 7 continued to search randomly, while the chicks tested from day 8 onward preferred the correct magnetic axis when tested 1 week later. The observation that the magnetic compass is not functional before day 8 suggests that certain maturation processes in the magnetosensitive system in the brain are not yet complete before that day. The reasons why chicks that have been trained before that day fail to learn the task later remain unclear.
Keyword Magnetoreception
Magnetic compass
Domestic chicken
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: Queensland Brain Institute Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 8 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Fri, 24 Oct 2014, 14:37:21 EST by Debra McMurtrie on behalf of Queensland Brain Institute