Some seabirds fly in search of food huge distances over oceans of time. Researchers believe now to be able to explain how they are basing. The albatross is based probably on his flight over monotone of water to odors that are over flown by land to the sea. Shearwaters, petrels and albatrosses have incredible navigational skills. They all belong to the order of Procellariiformes (Procellariiformes), and probably is her special sense of smell for the extraordinary sense of direction of these seabirds responsible. They often fly for days across the seas and oceans and do it then to return to their breeding colonies in alleged nowhere.
Researchers have long puzzled over how it manages the Procellariiformes to orient themselves in the kilometer-long travel over water areas without monotonous landscape features. Now reports an international team led by Andrew Reynolds of the British research station Rothamsted Research north of London that the animals apparently guided by odors. They report in the journal "Proceedings B" of the British Royal Society.
Plankton helps the birds in the orientation
Evidence suggests that smells as of phytoplankton play a major role in the navigation were published already in 2013. At that time, a team led by biologist Anna Gagliardo showed that Cory's Shearwater, where the olfactory organ had been manipulated, had significant difficulties in returning to their colonies. Another, quite plausible-sounding argument assumes that the seabirds are based primarily on the Earth's magnetic field. But at least in the degree of Gagliardo had shearwaters with normal sense of smell, have been exposed to magnetic interference, no problems in returning to their colony.
The researchers led by Reynolds wanted to know exactly how seabirds use smells for orientation. The scientists conducted their studies on Sepia shearwater (Calonectris diomedea), Cape Verde shearwater (C. edwardsii) and Cory's Shearwater (C. borealis) by - inter alia on the Italian Tremiti Islands or the Portuguese Azores islands Corvo. They equip 210 birds with GPS receivers, with the help of which the exact flown by birds route was recorded.
Without scent, the birds are disoriented
The researchers then compared these stretches with a mathematical model that explains how spread odors in the atmosphere and how birds use these odors to locate themselves anywhere along the flight. Accordingly, the birds fly almost strictly in one direction when odors are present in a certain concentration. If the fragrance concentration, however, below this level, the birds are disoriented and possibly change their direction.
According to the researchers, there is strong evidence that 69 percent of the examined birds be oriented by smell navigation. The flight of the animals will probably also influenced by other factors such as the presence of fishing boats. But they are convinced that the basic mechanism is the smell navigation.