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Virtual magnetic displacements are used to examine the magnetoreceptive ability of animals by changing the local magnetic field to emulate one that exists elsewhere. This technique can be used to test whether animals use a magnetic map. The viability of a magnetic map is dependant upon which magnetic parameters an animal’s coordinate system is composed of, and how sensitive they are to those parameters. Previous research has not considered the degree to which sensitivity can change an animal’s impression of where a virtual magnetic displacement is located. We re-assessed all published studies that use virtual magnetic displacements assuming the highest likely level of sensitivity to magnetic parameters in animals. The vast majority are susceptible to the existence of alternate possible virtual locations. In some cases, this can cause results to become ambiguous. We present a tool for visualising all possible virtual magnetic displacement alternative locations (ViMDAL) and propose changes to how further research on animal magnetoreception is conducted and reported.
Original languageEnglish
Article number187
Number of pages8
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2023

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