Department of Biology and Environmental Sciences, University of Oldenburg, Germany
Higher Brain Function
Title of the talk:
The magnetic senses in migratory birds.
The research of Prof. Henrik Mouristen focuses on animal navigation. The long-distance navigational abilities of animals have fascinated humans for centuries and challenged scientists for decades. How is a butterfly with a brain weighing less than 0.02 grams able to find its way to a very specific wintering site thousands of kilometers away, even though it has never been there before? And, how does a migratory bird circumnavigate the globe with a precision unobtainable by human navigators before the emergence of GPS satellites? To answer these questions, multidisciplinary approaches are needed. Prof. Mouristen’s group and its collaborators use mathematical modelling, physics, quantum chemistry, molecular biology, neurobiology, histology, computer simulations and newly developed laboratory equipment in combination with behavioral experiments and analyses of field data to achieve a better understanding of the behavioral and physiological mechanisms of long distance navigation in insects and birds. In recent years, their main focus has been on unravelling the mechanisms underlying the magnetic senses in birds.