Theoretically possible spatial accuracy of geomagnetic maps used by migrating animals

Research outputpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


Many migrating animals, belonging to different taxa, annually move across the globe and cover hundreds and thousands of kilometres. Many of them are able to show site fidelity, i.e. to return to relatively small migratory targets, from distant areas located beyond the possible range of direct sensory perception. One widely debated possibility of how they do it is the magnetic map, based on the gradients of parameters of the geomagnetic field (total field intensity and inclination). We analysed temporal fluctuations of the geomagnetic field intensity as recorded by three geomagnetic observatories located in Europe within the route of many avian migrants, to study the highest theoretically possible spatial resolution of the putative map. If migratory birds measure total field intensity perfectly and take the time of day into account, in northern Europe 81% of them may return to a strip of land of 43 km in width along one of coordinates, whereas in more southern areas such a strip may be narrower than 10 km. How
Original languageEnglish
Article number20161002
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number128
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)

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