Reply to "Animal magnetic sensitivity and magnetic displacement experiments

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In their matters arising article, Lohmann et al. propose that animals have a higher sensitivity to geomagnetic cues than we assumed in our original article. Based on this they re-assert the feasibility of a magnetic map used by animals to navigate. This second point represents a misunderstanding of our conclusions. We do not rule out magnetic maps as a possible tool for animal navigation, or that the presence of multiple locations means that animals are not responding to changes in the magnetic field. Nor do we suggest that virtual magnetic displacements are a flawed technique. Our aim is not to disparage previous work, rather, we highlight the need for caution in how virtual magnetic displacement experiments are designed and in how results are interpreted. We suggest caution because we have found that many virtual displacement studies do not appear to consider the presence of multiple possible locations that have the same magnetic cues. The onus here should be on the authors of studies to consider all possible locations and provide evidence and/or discussion of how the presence of possible locations may be interpreted by their test subject. The tool we present in our original article will enable researchers to visualise possible locations to help them to make these necessary considerations. The lack of evidence for how sensitive animals are to magnetic cues is certainly a major driver in how widespread the multiple locations with the same magnetic cues may be


  • Animals, Magnetic Fields, Magnetics
Original languageEnglish
Article number651
Pages (from-to)651
Number of pages1
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
Early online date27 May 2024
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2024
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