Testing Magnetic Orientation in a Solitary Subterranean Rodent Ctenomys talarum (Rodentia: Octodontidae)

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Abstract:

Abstract

To test for the hypothesis that Ctenomys talarum can use the earth's magnetic field for spatial orientation, we carried out field and laboratory experiments to analyse if C. talarum burrows present any geomagnetic orientation in their natural habitat, if C. talarum show any spontaneous directional preference when starting to excavate their burrows and if this subterranean rodent is capable to use the earth's magnetic field to orient towards a goal in a complex maze. No correlation between the burrowing direction and the earth's magnetic field was found. We could not find any evidence for any spontaneous directional preference when starting to excavate the burrows in C. talarum. The change of the horizontal vector of the geomagnetic field did not affect the ability of this rodent to orient towards a goal in an artificial labyrinth. Explanations for these results and other possible mechanisms of orientation that could be used by C. talarum are discussed.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1439-0310.2004.00981.x

Publication date: June 1, 2004

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