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Dung beetles ignore landmarks for straight-line orientation

Publiceringsår: 2012
Språk: Engelska
Sidor: 17-23
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Journal of Comparative Physiology A
Volym: 199
Dokumenttyp: Artikel i tidskrift
Förlag: Springer


Upon locating a suitable dung pile, ball-rolling

dung beetles shape a piece of dung into a ball and roll it

away in a straight line. This guarantees that they will not

return to the dung pile, where they risk having their ball

stolen by other beetles. Dung beetles are known to use

celestial compass cues such as the sun, the moon and the

pattern of polarised light formed around these light sources

to roll their balls of dung along straight paths. Here, we

investigate whether terrestrial landmarks have any influence

on straight-line orientation in dung beetles. We find

that the removal or re-arrangement of landmarks has no

effect on the beetle’s orientation precision. Celestial compass

cues dominate straight-line orientation in dung beetles

so strongly that, under heavily overcast conditions or when

prevented from seeing the sky, the beetles can no longer

orient along straight paths. To our knowledge, this is the

only animal with a visual compass system that ignores the

extra orientation precision that landmarks can offer.


  • Biological Sciences
  • Dung beetle
  • Scarabaeidae
  • Scarabaeinae
  • Landmark
  • Orientation


  • Lund Vision Group
  • ISSN: 1432-1351

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