Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Testing cognitive navigation in unknown territories: homing pigeons choose different targets


Blaser, N; Dell'Omo, G; Dell'Ariccia, G; Wolfer, D P; Lipp, H-P (2013). Testing cognitive navigation in unknown territories: homing pigeons choose different targets. Journal of Experimental Biology, 216(Pt 16):3123-3131.

Abstract

Homing pigeons (Columba livia) are believed to adopt a map-and-compass strategy to find their way home. Surprisingly, to date a clear demonstration of the use of a cognitive map in free-flight experiments is missing. In this study, we investigated whether homing pigeons use a mental map in which - at an unknown release site - their own position, the home loft and a food loft are represented simultaneously. In order to test this, homing pigeons were trained to fly to a 25-30 km distant food loft. A total of 131 hungry and satiated pigeons were then released from an unfamiliar site equidistant from the food loft and the home loft. Their vanishing bearings and homing times were assessed conventionally at four sites, and also their flight tracks from one release site by means of GPS loggers. The vanishing bearings of fed and hungry birds differed significantly at all release sites and a highly significant proportion of hungry birds flew to the food loft, while the fed birds headed home. The GPS experiment revealed a number of pigeons flying very precisely to the food loft, others correcting their flight direction after topography-induced detours. This implies that the pigeons knew their geographical position in relation to the targets, and chose a flight direction according to their locally manipulated needs - clearly the essence of a cognitive navigational map.

Abstract

Homing pigeons (Columba livia) are believed to adopt a map-and-compass strategy to find their way home. Surprisingly, to date a clear demonstration of the use of a cognitive map in free-flight experiments is missing. In this study, we investigated whether homing pigeons use a mental map in which - at an unknown release site - their own position, the home loft and a food loft are represented simultaneously. In order to test this, homing pigeons were trained to fly to a 25-30 km distant food loft. A total of 131 hungry and satiated pigeons were then released from an unfamiliar site equidistant from the food loft and the home loft. Their vanishing bearings and homing times were assessed conventionally at four sites, and also their flight tracks from one release site by means of GPS loggers. The vanishing bearings of fed and hungry birds differed significantly at all release sites and a highly significant proportion of hungry birds flew to the food loft, while the fed birds headed home. The GPS experiment revealed a number of pigeons flying very precisely to the food loft, others correcting their flight direction after topography-induced detours. This implies that the pigeons knew their geographical position in relation to the targets, and chose a flight direction according to their locally manipulated needs - clearly the essence of a cognitive navigational map.

Statistics

Citations

7 citations in Web of Science®
7 citations in Scopus®
Google Scholar™

Altmetrics

Downloads

40 downloads since deposited on 20 Dec 2013
12 downloads since 12 months
Detailed statistics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Anatomy
04 Faculty of Medicine > Center for Integrative Human Physiology
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2013
Deposited On:20 Dec 2013 09:16
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 17:18
Publisher:Company of Biologists
ISSN:0022-0949
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.083246
PubMed ID:23885090

Download

Preview Icon on Download
Preview
Content: Published Version
Filetype: PDF
Size: 600kB
View at publisher

TrendTerms

TrendTerms displays relevant terms of the abstract of this publication and related documents on a map. The terms and their relations were extracted from ZORA using word statistics. Their timelines are taken from ZORA as well. The bubble size of a term is proportional to the number of documents where the term occurs. Red, orange, yellow and green colors are used for terms that occur in the current document; red indicates high interlinkedness of a term with other terms, orange, yellow and green decreasing interlinkedness. Blue is used for terms that have a relation with the terms in this document, but occur in other documents.
You can navigate and zoom the map. Mouse-hovering a term displays its timeline, clicking it yields the associated documents.

Author Collaborations