Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Taking an insect-inspired approach to bird navigation
Author(s): Pritchard, David J
Healy, Susan D
Keywords: Spatial learning
Active vision
Optic flow
Sensory ecology
Issue Date: Mar-2018
Citation: Pritchard DJ & Healy SD (2018) Taking an insect-inspired approach to bird navigation. Learning and Behavior, 46 (1), pp. 7-22.
Abstract: Navigation is an essential skill for many animals, and understanding how animal use environmental information, particularly visual information, to navigate has a long history in both ethology and psychology. In birds, the dominant approach for investigating navigation at small-scales comes from comparative psychology, which emphasizes the cognitive representations underpinning spatial memory. The majority of this work is based in the laboratory and it is unclear whether this context itself affects the information that birds learn and use when they search for a location. Data from hummingbirds suggests that birds in the wild might use visual information in quite a different manner. To reconcile these differences, here we propose a new approach to avian navigation, inspired by the sensory-driven study of navigation in insects. Using methods devised for studying the navigation of insects, it is possible to quantify the visual information available to navigating birds, and then to determine how this information influences those birds’ navigation decisions. Focusing on four areas that we consider characteristic of the insect navigation perspective, we discuss how this approach has shone light on the information insects use to navigate, and assess the prospects of taking a similar approach with birds. Although birds and insects differ in many ways, there is nothing in the insectinspired approach of the kind we describe that means these methods need be restricted to insects. On the contrary, adopting such an approach could provide a fresh perspective on the well-studied question of how birds navigate through a variety of environments.
DOI Link: 10.3758/s13420-018-0314-5
Rights: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Licence URL(s):

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Pritchard-Healy2018_Article_TakingAnInsect-inspiredApproac.pdfFulltext - Published Version1.43 MBAdobe PDFView/Open

This item is protected by original copyright

A file in this item is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons

Items in the Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.

If you believe that any material held in STORRE infringes copyright, please contact providing details and we will remove the Work from public display in STORRE and investigate your claim.