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Northern magnetic displacements trigger endogenous fuelling responses in a naive bird migrant

  • Jannika Boström
  • Cecilia Kullberg
  • Susanne Åkesson
Publishing year: 2012
Language: English
Pages: 819-821
Publication/Series: Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Volume: 66
Issue: 5
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Springer

Abstract english

In a previous study, we found that juvenile northern wheatears (Oenanthe oenanthe) exposed to a magnetic displacement to the west of their natural migration route increased their body mass. The total intensity and inclination used for the western displacement may also have been interpreted as northern compared to the experimental site (stronger total field intensity and steeper inclination angle). In order to investigate whether the fuelling response was a response to an unexpected magnetic field or specific to the northern magnetic field, we conducted a new experiment. Juvenile wheatears from the same study population were magnetically displaced to southwestern magnetic fields, exposing the birds to unexpected magnetic combinations, but eliminating the possible effect of a northern magnetic field. A control group was kept in the local geomagnetic field in Sweden for comparison. There was no difference in body mass increase between treatments, suggesting that the fuelling response previously found was not a simple response to an unexpected magnetic field, but rather a specific response to the northern magnetic field. Juvenile wheatears may have developed a fuelling response to northern magnetic fields in order to enable a successful flight towards the migration goal.


  • Biological Sciences
  • Magnetic field
  • Fuelling
  • Migration programs
  • Northern wheatear


  • ISSN: 1432-0762
Susanne Åkesson
E-mail: susanne [dot] akesson [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se


Evolutionary ecology

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