Using novel biologging technologies to study age-old questions of magnetic sensing in free-roaming wild boar

Fabian Ramos-Almodovar, Luis Estrada, Kalliste Capdevila, Michael S. Painter, Department of Biology, Barry University, 11300 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami, FL 33161

Throughout the animal kingdom, a multitude of taxa have been shown to use the Earth’s magnetic field for migration, orientation and navigation behavior. For example, the magnetic field has been shown to provide a reliable compass reference during migratory behaviors, whereas specific components of the magnetic field can provide a magnetic map sense. A wealth of field-based observational studies provide evidence for a less intuitive form of magnetic behavior known as spontaneous magnetic alignment (SMA) during which animals passively align the body axis with respect to the geomagnetic field. Not only does the adaptive significance of SMA remain a topic of debate, but designing studies to investigate these relatively subtle spatial behaviors in free-roaming animals under natural contexts have proven challenging, as traditional approaches lack experimental power, are laborious, time consuming, and subject to observer bias. Therefore, we have taken advantage of emerging biologging technologies which provide high resolution data across long-term temporal scales to further characterize SMA in free-roaming mammals under natural contexts. Specifically, we have developed biologging collars equipped with triaxial accelerometer and magnetometer sensors to collect data from free-roaming wild boar (Sus scorfa), previously shown to exhibit SMA during resting and feeding behaviors. In tandem, we are developing behavioral classifiers to identify discrete behaviors in wild boar from raw accelerometer profiles which are then compared to ground-truth video records to evaluate classifier performance. Time-synced magnetic compass orientation can then be extracted from the raw magnetometer data to provide evidence for or against SMA during behaviors of interest (e.g. resting) without the need for direct observation. We look forward to presenting our findings using this novel approach to study magnetic orientation in free-roaming mammals. The continued development of these techniques will offer a powerful approach for studies of spatial behavior in wild animals.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenters: Fabian Ramos-Almodovar, Luis Estrada, Kallista Capdevila

Institution: Barry University

Type: Oral

Subject: Biology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Oral 4
Date/Time: Tue 11:00am-12:00pm
Session Number: 439
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