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Bat orientation using Earth's magnetic field


Bats famously orientate at night by echolocation1, but this works over only a short range, and little is known about how they navigate over longer distances2. Here we show that the homing behaviour of Eptesicus fuscus, known as the big brown bat, can be altered by artificially shifting the Earth's magnetic field, indicating that these bats rely on a magnetic compass to return to their home roost. This finding adds to the impressive array of sensory abilities possessed by this animal for navigation in the dark.

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Correspondence to Richard A. Holland.

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Figure 1: Headings and tracks of homing bats.


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