细胞期刊(Cell)2013-12-29 4:49 AM

Dung Beetles Use the Milky Way for Orientation 甲虫利用银河系定向

Abstract
When the moon is absent from the night sky, stars remain as celestial visual cues. Nonetheless, only birds [1,2], seals [3], and humans [4] are known to use stars for orientation. African ball-rolling dung beetles exploit the sun, the moon, and the celestial polarization pattern to move along straight paths, away from the intense competition at the dung pile [5,6,7,8,9]. Even on clear moonless nights, many beetles still manage to orientate along straight paths [5]. This led us to hypothesize that dung beetles exploit the starry sky for orientation, a feat that has, to our knowledge, never been demonstrated in an insect. Here, we show that dung beetles transport their dung balls along straight paths under a starlit sky but lose this ability under overcast conditions. In a planetarium, the beetles orientate equally well when rolling under a full starlit sky as when only the Milky Way is present. The use of this bidirectional celestial cue for orientation has been proposed for vertebrates [10], spiders [11], and insects [5,12], but never proven. This finding represents the first convincing demonstration for the use of the starry sky for orientation in insects and provides the first documented use of the Milky Way for orientation in the animal kingdom. 论文摘要 当月亮从夜空中缺席,星星仍可作为天空中可见的定位线索。然而已知只有鸟类,海豹和人类知道如何利用星星来定位方向。非洲蜣螂依靠探索太阳,月亮和天体的偏振模式来保持直线路径的移动,从而远离竞争激烈的牛粪堆。即使在没有月亮的晴朗夜晚,许多蜣螂仍然拥有定位直线路径的看家本领。这让我们不禁猜测蜣螂拥有运用闪耀星空定位方向的能力,就人类所知,这是一个在昆虫中从未得到证明的惊人发现。在这项实验中,我们发现蜣螂在星空下能沿直线路径运输粪球,但在阴天就失去了这种能力。即使置身在只现银河的天空下,蜣螂在天文馆(的试验台)中滚屎球定向能力也与身处星星满天的环境时同样出色。早有理论提出脊椎动物,蜘蛛和昆虫能利用双重天体线索(即“银河定位导航系统”和“月光导航系统”)来定位,但这种理论还从未被证实过。这一发现首次为昆虫能利用璀璨星空定位的理论提供了令人信服的论证,而且展示了动物界中利用银河系定位的首次记载在案的记录。

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