Observations of the flight paths of pigeons navigating from familiar locations have shown that these birds are able to learn and subsequently follow habitual routes home. It has been suggested that navigation along these routes is based on the recognition of memorized visual landmarks. Previous research has identified the effect of landmarks on flight path structure, and thus the locations of potentially salient sites. Pigeons have also been observed to be particularly attracted to strong linear features in the landscape, such as roads and rivers. However, a more general understanding of the specific characteristics of the landscape that facilitate route learning has remained out of reach. In this study, we identify landscape complexity as a key predictor of the fidelity to the habitual route, and thus conclude that pigeons form route memories most strongly in regions where the landscape complexity is neither too great nor too low. Our results imply that pigeons process their visual environment on a characteristic spatial scale while navigating and can explain the different degrees of success in reproducing route learning in different geographical locations.
The use of mesh in laparoscopic paraesophageal hiatal hernia repair (LHR) may reduce the risk of late hernia recurrence. The aim of this study was to evaluate initial outcomes and recurrence rate of 92 patients who underwent LHR reinforced with a synthetic bioabsorbable mesh. Surgical approaches included LHR and Nissen fundoplication (n = 64), LHR without fundoplication (n = 10), reoperative LHR (n = 9), LHR with a bariatric operation (n = 6), and emergent LHR (n = 3). The mean length of hospital stay was 2 ± 3 days (range, 1 to 30 days). There were no conversions to open laparotomy and no intraoperative complications. One of 92 patients (1.1%) required intensive care unit stay. The 90-day mortality was zero. Minor complications occurred in 3.3 per cent, major complications in 2.2 per cent, and late complications in 5.5 per cent of patients. There were no perforations or early hernia recurrence. The 30-day reoperation rate was 1.1 per cent. For patients with available 1-year follow-up, the overall recurrence rate was 18.5 per cent with a mean follow-up of 30 months (range, 12 to 51 months). LHR repair with mesh is associated with low perioperative morbidity and no mortality. The use of bioabsorbable mesh appears to be safe with no early hiatal hernia recurrence or late mesh erosion. Longer follow-up is needed to determine the long-term rate of hernia recurrence associated with LHR with mesh.
When homing from familiar areas, homing pigeons are able to exploit previously acquired topographical information, but the mechanisms behind this ability are still poorly understood. One possibility is that they recall the familiar release site topographical features in association with the home direction (site-specific compass orientation strategy), another that the spatial relationships among landmarks guide their route home (piloting strategy), without relying on the compass mechanism. The two strategies can be put in conflict by releasing clock-shifted birds at familiar locations, in order to highlight which is preferred. We analysed GPS tracks of clock-shifted pigeons, with familiarity controlled at each of three different release sites, and we observed that pigeons can display individual preferences for one of the two orientation strategies and that some characteristic features of the release site have an important role in determining the level of landmark-based homeward orientation.
The sun has long been thought to guide bird navigation as the second step in a two-stage process, in which determining position using a map is followed by course setting using a compass, both over unfamiliar and familiar terrain. The animals endogenous clock time-compensates the solar compass for the suns apparent movement throughout the day, and this allows predictable deflections in orientation to test for the compass influence using clock-shift manipulations. To examine the influence of the solar compass during a highly familiar navigational task, 24 clock-shifted homing pigeons were precision-tracked from a release site close to and in sight of their final goal, the colony loft. The resulting trajectories displayed significant partial deflection from the loft direction as predicted by either fast or slow clock-shift treatments. The partial deflection was also found to be stable along the entire trajectory indicating regular updating of orientation via input from the solar compass throughout the final approach flight to the loft. Our results demonstrate that time-compensated solar cues are deeply embedded in the way birds orient during homing flight, are accessed throughout the journey and on a remarkably fine-grained scale, and may be combined effectively simultaneously with direct guidance from familiar landmarks, even when birds are flying towards a directly visible goal.
Pigeons home along idiosyncratic habitual routes from familiar locations. It has been suggested that memorized visual landmarks underpin this route learning. However, the inability to experimentally alter the landscape on large scales has hindered the discovery of the particular features to which birds attend. Here, we present a method for objectively classifying the most informative regions of animal paths. We apply this method to flight trajectories from homing pigeons to identify probable locations of salient visual landmarks. We construct and apply a Gaussian process model of flight trajectory generation for pigeons trained to home from specific release sites. The model shows increasing predictive power as the birds become familiar with the sites, mirroring the animals learning process. We subsequently find that the most informative elements of the flight trajectories coincide with landscape features that have previously been suggested as important components of the homing task.
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