Department of game management and wildlife biology

Magnetic orientation

Science, research and teaching > Magnetic orientation

   We are very interested in the issue of the magnetic orientation of game and other species of animals and living organisms. We work with employees of the University of Duisburg-Essen (Germany), who have been dealing with the influence of the Earth's magnetic field on animals for many years. So far, we have come upon some very interesting findings, which have been published in world-renowned journals. We are constantly deepening our findings and observations of nature and trying to present our "magnetised" animals to the world. The information we often publish swirls the wave of criticism, but it is necessary to perceive this research as pioneering, and in most cases these findings prove to us that, as masters of creation, we still know little about creation.

   Research into magnetoreception, or the detection of the Earth's magnetic field, is a complex field that needs to be further intensively studied. The location of magnetoreceptors is still the subject of research, but it has been proven that many species of animals have a sense of magnetoreception.

   One of the teams of our department deals with the study of magnetoreception of selected vertebrate species. The basic topics are Spatial behavior and homing strategies of hunting dogs and Experiments focused on magnetic alignment in laboratory conditions of electromagnetic coils. The main objects of study are hunting breeds of dogs, whose behavior is easy to monitor under normal conditions in relation to magnetoreception. The team is also studying magnetic alignment in african frogs of the Hymenochochirus curtipes species.

Tools and methods for the study of magnetoreception

    A more detailed study of the spatial orientation of dogs is made possible thanks to GPS collars, Astra or Alpha tracking devices and thanks to cameras that dogs wear on their vests. The data are then further processed by using Base Camp, Vibr Edit and Matlab programmes.

    The team also monitors the effect of magnetoreception on the laterality of dogs. It has recently been proven that magnetic north attracts dogs and thus disrupts their laterality (lateral distinctiveness). A simple test was used to select a treat from two identical bowls placed in compass directions.

   We also focus on magnetic alignment (spontaneous alignment of the body axis along the north-south magnetic axis) in african frogs (african dwarf frog), where the team observes how the african dwarf frogs align in a natural and shifted magnetic field.

   The most frequently used programme for the evaluation of this circular data, which are recorded in degrees (0 ° -360 °), is Oriana Kovach Computing 4.02.

Topics currently dealt with by the magnetoreception team

  • Spatial orientation of hunting dogs at night
  • Spatial orientation of hunting dogs in an unknown environment
  • The use of cameras in behavioural research of dog behaviour
  • Spatial orientation of dogs and their cooperation in driven hunts
  • The influence of magnetoreception of dogs on their laterality
  • Assessment of the effectiveness of sensorimotor tests of dogs to determine the laterality of dogs
  • Magnetoreception testing of dogs under altered magnetic field conditions in an electromagnetic coil
  • Magnetic alignment of african dwarf frog in laboratory conditions of a magnetic coil

First researches

    The first research that generated a huge wave of interest was a study on the grazing and resting of cattle and deer. It was published in the very prestigious journal PNAS in 2008. It was one of the first studies to focus on magnetic orientation in non-migratory animals. The research was relatively simple, because satellite photos were used to read the directions of the bodies of cattle and deer, which also attracted scientists from NASA.

   Further research builds on existing work on grazing, and it has attracted the world’s attention by saying that everything is different under high-voltage wires. The magnetic orientation of cattle grazing under high-voltage wires was disturbed.

   Prof. Červený's finding that foxes more often jump on prey on the north-south axis, that is, in the "magnetic" axis, was third in row. This finding is attributed to the magnetic range-finder that foxes likely use; this is a device that is located in the "lights" in the eyes of foxes that probably helps them better measure the distance to their prey.

Research not only on mammals

    Another studied animal was the Christmas carp. The round vats in which carps are sold all over the country a few days before Christmas, were a great experimental device. The results were published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Magnetic Alignment in Carps: Evidence from the Czech Christmas Fish Market

   The public was informed about this research through Czech radio and its programme Meteor, see below.

Češi hlásí objev kapřího kompasu

   Landing on water is extremely difficult not only for pilots (as evidenced by the Boeing 777 crash in San Francisco), but also for water birds. In the comments on this disaster, the pilots agree that the airport in San Francisco is one of the worst in the world, because the landing begins above the water, making estimating the height, speed and slope of the descent extremely difficult. But have you ever seen water birds have an accident when they land, or a flock colliding?

Directional compass preference for landing in water birds

   There was also several responses to this interesting research in the national press and radio; links can be found below.

Výzkum: kachny přistávají na vodě severojižně. Letadla se mohou opičit

Fascinující objev: kachny divoké se při přistání řídí kompasem. (time 22:45)

Kdo je dispečerem vodního ptactva?