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Geomagnetic Navigation in Monarchs and Black Swallowtails

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Title: Geomagnetic Navigation in Monarchs and Black Swallowtails
Creators: LaRue, Alyssa; Naber, Steven; Talnagi, Joseph
Issue Date: 2006-06
Citation: The Ohio Journal of Science, v106, n3 (June, 2006), 117-121.
Abstract: Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) in North America migrate to and from Mexico. Black swallowtails (Papilio polyxenes) are non-migratory and travel locally. Two hypotheses have been suggested concerning the navigation of monarchs: that the monarchs use an internal sun compass, or that they use a geomagnetic compass. The data collected by this research show that both species have the ability to use geomagnetic navigation and that monarchs do, in fact, use geomagnetic navigation. Neutron activation analysis was used to assay iron concentrations by species, body parts, and sex. It was shown that the head had the highest iron concentrations of the body parts, with monarch females being higher than monarch males. The gender pattern was reversed in the black swallowtails. A strong magnet and insect pavilion was used in darkness and sunlight in different orientations to test the hypothesis that monarchs have a geomagnetic sensory system and use geomagnetic navigation. Monarchs were affected by the magnet in both sunlight and dark, while black swallowtails did not show conclusively that they use geomagnetic navigation. These findings may have parallels in other migratory and non-migratory species of animals.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1811/36459
ISSN: 0030-0950
Rights: Reproduction of articles for non-commercial educational or research use granted without request if credit to The Ohio State University and The Ohio Academy of Science is given.
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