About this Research Topic
Animals use different mechanisms to orient and navigate. This Research Topic presents recent advances in understanding functional characteristics, molecular architecture and neuronal integration pathways of different mechanisms for position sensing and compasses as well as on their inter-relationship and calibrations. Unravelling the mechanisms underlying the amazing ability of birds, fishes, sharks, whales and insects to navigate effortlessly around half the globe has remained a remarkably resilient enterprise. Likewise, sensory and cerebral navigation mechanisms outside the laboratory are only being touched upon, mostly by means of satellite telemetry and miniaturized GPS systems. There is a huge discrepancy between what can be found in rats or other model organisms (e.g., see the last Nobel prizes), and how this might correspond to the processes taking place in brains, often weighing only a fraction of one gram, in hundreds of species, and over evolutionary extended periods.
Thus, a focus on animal orientation and navigation, both behaviourally and neurobiologically, will remain a scientific challenge for discussion and integrative approaches. We firmly believe that a Research Topic has the potential of establishing not only a single focal issue, but also opening up for implementing later an own journal in the Frontiers palette. This belief is based on the fact that articles on animal orientation and navigation appear, occasionally, in high-ranked journals according to editorial consideration (e.g., appeal to a larger public), while other articles of perhaps equal scientific value find only few journals for publication, e.g., J. Exp. Biol., Anim. Behaviour, Biol. Letter, Europ. J. Neurosci or animal group specific journals like J. Ornithology. From our knowledge in participating in the Animal Navigation Forum of the Royal Institute of Navigation, we are convinced that many researchers would welcome the opportunity to publish their work in a Research Topic or even specialized journal at reasonable publication fees.
Specifically, we aim to cover recent advances on the fascinating diversity and accuracy of animal orientation from behaviour to neuronal integration pathways, and also across species. We want to highlight the potential of out of the box thinking and the interdisciplinarity of the field in order to advance our knowledge in this area. With this Research Topic we want to offer an overview of:
a) Theoretical papers dealing with navigational cues such as olfaction, geomagnetic sensing, effects of gravity and behavioural timing (e.g., sun compasses or lunar clocks). This will probably include controversial papers for debates.
b) Reviews or experimental papers showing orientation and navigation abilities and open questions in insects, bird, fishes and mammals such as bats.
c) Short communications resulting from recent field research and pilot studies in various species that might not suffice the criteria for a multi-year study but could provide important information for groups working on similar topics.
d) Perspectives of how to integrate behavioural genomics – after all migration and navigation must have evolved a long time before the first mammals appeared.
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.