"This is the first time anyone has looked at the odor-tracking behavior of individual birds in the wild using remote techniques," said Gabrielle Nevitt, professor of neurobiology, physiology and behavior at UC Davis and an author on the study with UC Davis graduate student Marcel Losekoot of the Bodega Marine Laboratory and Henri Weimerskirch of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France.
Wandering albatrosses fly for thousands of miles across the ocean, usually gliding a few feet above sea level. Floating carrion, especially squid, make up a large part of their diet.
Albatrosses nesting on Possession Island in the southwestern Indian Ocean were fitted with GPS receivers that recorded their exact position every 10 seconds and stomach temperature gauges that noted every meal. When the birds returned to land after a foraging trip, the researchers removed the equipment and downloaded the data.
They found that the birds usually flew across the wind, which allows them to cross plumes of scent drifting downwind and is also the best strategy for energy-efficient soaring.
Sometimes birds would fly straight to food, but almost half the time an albatross would either turn upwind or zigzag into the wind toward a meal. Both patterns suggest that the birds were following a plume of scent, rather than visual cues. Birds could turn upwind toward a food source several miles away -- well over the visual horizon.
Hunting by scent allows the albatross to cover a strip of ocean several miles wide as it flies crosswind, Nevitt said.
Wandering albatrosses and their relatives do not appear to have particularly good eyesight, compared with other predatory birds, and their eyes may be adapted to scan movement on the horizon. That might help them detect other groups of other birds gathered around food.
The study is published online by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and was funded by grants from the French Polar Institute and the U.S. National Science Foundation.
Andy Fell | EurekAlert!
Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT
Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine
07.12.2016 | Life Sciences
07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine