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Landscape complexity influences route-memory formation in navigating pigeons
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Mathematics and Computer Science, Department of Mathematics.
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2014 (English)In: Biology Letters, ISSN 1744-9561, E-ISSN 1744-957X, Vol. 10, no 1, 20130885- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Observations of the flight paths of pigeons navigating from familiar locations have shown that these birds are able to learn and subsequently follow habitual routes home. It has been suggested that navigation along these routes is based on the recognition of memorized visual landmarks. Previous research has identified the effect of landmarks on flight path structure, and thus the locations of potentially salient sites. Pigeons have also been observed to be particularly attracted to strong linear features in the landscape, such as roads and rivers. However, a more general understanding of the specific characteristics of the landscape that facilitate route learning has remained out of reach. In this study, we identify landscape complexity as a key predictor of the fidelity to the habitual route, and thus conclude that pigeons form route memories most strongly in regions where the landscape complexity is neither too great nor too low. Our results imply that pigeons process their visual environment on a characteristic spatial scale while navigating and can explain the different degrees of success in reproducing route learning in different geographical locations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 10, no 1, 20130885- p.
Keyword [en]
pigeon, navigation, homing, familiar area, landmark, vision
National Category
Natural Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-221721DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2013.0885ISI: 000332377500006OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-221721DiVA: diva2:710195
Available from: 2014-04-04 Created: 2014-04-03 Last updated: 2014-04-04Bibliographically approved

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Mann, Richard P.
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