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Animal migration and geo-magnetoreception ecological study; has anyone tested this library? How reliable is it?

Aryan Singh

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So I came across this article linking a study that claims to be probably the first, if not only, research implying migratory correlation with magnetic fields. They claimed to have made a library that can help ecologists utilize geomagnetic references to geo-temporally track animal migration. If this is true it has some pretty wide implications about ecological navigation. The paper claims, "We find that the average absolute error of intensity is − 21.6 nT (95% CI [− 22.26555, − 20.96664]), which is at the lower range of the intensity that animals can sense. The main predictor of error is the level of geomagnetic disturbance, given by the Kp index (indicating the presence of a geomagnetic storm). Since storm level disturbances are rare, this means that our tool is suitable for studies of animal geomagnetic navigation. Caution should be taken with data obtained during geomagnetically disturbed days due to rapid and localised changes of the field which may not be adequately captured.", in its results. 

They apply the model on the migration of white-fronted geese controlled for locations affected by Geomagnetic storms and build a model to predict a possible turning angle.  In the attached image, there are a number of geese groups tracked, with the red marked ones being the ones affected by a Geomagnetic storm. If this works, it is remarkable, but I feel it almost seems too good to be true. If this can be used to correlate the migratory patterns of Arctic Terns, and other species that is wild. If I understand this right, you could probably estimate the number of fishes, especially hammerhead sharks and wouldn't need to conduct surveys for accuracy. But that stuff aside, I wanted to ask if anyone had applied this library in some of their own studies to determine reliability. 


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Many birds seem to use the magnetic field for navigation, same with sharks. 


Over the past few years many articles have surfaced showing the connection between migration patterns and magnetic fields. Forbes and Nature did a couple in 2018. Here is a more detailed article: Magnetoreception in birds | Journal of The Royal Society Interface (royalsocietypublishing.org)


The mechanism for detection in their magnetic compass is suspected to be in cryptochrome-4, in the retina. 

The model is probably reliable, although I am not an expert. The idea is plausible (to me) and reflects contemporary research. 


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