Our experiments, carried out at night and during the day on adults and laboratory-born young of the sandhopper Talitrus saltator, deal with the identification and use of the moon as an orientating factor. Sandhoppers were released in an apparatus (a Plexiglas dome) that produced a scenario similar to the natural one (with artificial sky, moon or sun illuminated at different intensities).

When tested at night, the adult and young sandhoppers used the artificial moon like the natural one, independently of the intensity of illumination of the artificial sky and moon. In other words, sandhoppers tested at night always identified the artificial moon as the moon and never as the sun. In daytime releases, the seaward orientation failed at low intensities of artificial sky and sun illumination (3.07 and 1.55 μW cm2, respectively), whereas the sun compass was used effectively at higher levels of artificial sun and sky illumination. The innate ability of moon compass orientation in inexpert young sandhoppers was demonstrated even under artificial light.



    • Received February 22, 2005.
    • Accepted June 7, 2005.
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