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Orienting to polarized light at night - matching lunar skylight to performance in a nocturnal beetle.

Publication ,  Journal Article
Foster, JJ; Kirwan, JD; El Jundi, B; Smolka, J; Khaldy, L; Baird, E; Byrne, MJ; Nilsson, D-E; Johnsen, S; Dacke, M
Published in: The Journal of experimental biology
January 2019

For polarized light to inform behaviour, the typical range of degrees of polarization observable in the animal's natural environment must be above the threshold for detection and interpretation. Here, we present the first investigation of the degree of linear polarization threshold for orientation behaviour in a nocturnal species, with specific reference to the range of degrees of polarization measured in the night sky. An effect of lunar phase on the degree of polarization of skylight was found, with smaller illuminated fractions of the moon's surface corresponding to lower degrees of polarization in the night sky. We found that the South African dung beetle Escarabaeus satyrus can orient to polarized light for a range of degrees of polarization similar to that observed in diurnal insects, reaching a lower threshold between 0.04 and 0.32, possibly as low as 0.11. For degrees of polarization lower than 0.23, as measured on a crescent moon night, orientation performance was considerably weaker than that observed for completely linearly polarized stimuli, but was nonetheless stronger than in the absence of polarized light.

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Published In

The Journal of experimental biology

DOI

EISSN

1477-9145

ISSN

0022-0949

Publication Date

January 2019

Volume

222

Issue

Pt 2

Start / End Page

jeb188532

Related Subject Headings

  • Visual Perception
  • South Africa
  • Physiology
  • Orientation, Spatial
  • Moon
  • Light
  • Coleoptera
  • Animals
  • 31 Biological sciences
  • 11 Medical and Health Sciences
 

Citation

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Foster, J. J., Kirwan, J. D., El Jundi, B., Smolka, J., Khaldy, L., Baird, E., … Dacke, M. (2019). Orienting to polarized light at night - matching lunar skylight to performance in a nocturnal beetle. The Journal of Experimental Biology, 222(Pt 2), jeb188532. https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.188532
Foster, James J., John D. Kirwan, Basil El Jundi, Jochen Smolka, Lana Khaldy, Emily Baird, Marcus J. Byrne, Dan-Eric Nilsson, Sönke Johnsen, and Marie Dacke. “Orienting to polarized light at night - matching lunar skylight to performance in a nocturnal beetle.The Journal of Experimental Biology 222, no. Pt 2 (January 2019): jeb188532. https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.188532.
Foster JJ, Kirwan JD, El Jundi B, Smolka J, Khaldy L, Baird E, et al. Orienting to polarized light at night - matching lunar skylight to performance in a nocturnal beetle. The Journal of experimental biology. 2019 Jan;222(Pt 2):jeb188532.
Foster, James J., et al. “Orienting to polarized light at night - matching lunar skylight to performance in a nocturnal beetle.The Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 222, no. Pt 2, Jan. 2019, p. jeb188532. Epmc, doi:10.1242/jeb.188532.
Foster JJ, Kirwan JD, El Jundi B, Smolka J, Khaldy L, Baird E, Byrne MJ, Nilsson D-E, Johnsen S, Dacke M. Orienting to polarized light at night - matching lunar skylight to performance in a nocturnal beetle. The Journal of experimental biology. 2019 Jan;222(Pt 2):jeb188532.
Journal cover image

Published In

The Journal of experimental biology

DOI

EISSN

1477-9145

ISSN

0022-0949

Publication Date

January 2019

Volume

222

Issue

Pt 2

Start / End Page

jeb188532

Related Subject Headings

  • Visual Perception
  • South Africa
  • Physiology
  • Orientation, Spatial
  • Moon
  • Light
  • Coleoptera
  • Animals
  • 31 Biological sciences
  • 11 Medical and Health Sciences