Project properties

Title Do large animals indeed respond to the Earth's magnetic field?
Group Wildlife Ecology and Conservation group
Project type thesis
Credits 18-39
Supervisor(s) Dr. ir. Ignas Heitkonig
Examiner(s) F. van Langevelde
Contact info
Begin date 2013/12/01
End date 2022/12/31
Description Recent 2008 and 2011 papers suggest that cattle and deer may respond to the Earth's magnetic field, by aligning their bodies in a north-south direction. Dr Begall and her colleagues published their confirmatory findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS, 2008), an esteemed scientific journal. They analysed cattle resting positions of 8510 grazing and resting cattle in 308 pasture plains across the globe, based on Google Earth images, dismissed suggestions that their position was influenced by sun or wind, and concluded that cattle do indeed appear to respond to the magnetic field. A crital paper by Hert et al (J Comp Physiol A, 2011) did not find any such evidence, while Begall et al (J Comp Physiol A, 2011) replied by stating that Hert's data also supported the north-south alignment. A recent experimental field study (REG, MSc) found no evidence for magnetic alignment in cattle. There is room to improve on our MSc data, and we invite are looking for a student to respond to this challenge, and to carry out an MSc study to verify the findings of the previous studies. A desk-top study will suffice for a short MSC topic; a longer study will involve fieldwork to observe the orientation of domestic animals in pastures.

[Spatial aspects in resource ecology, Miscellaneous]
[The Netherlands]
Used skills GIS, statistics, desk-top study
Requirements Animal Ecology, Ecological Methods 1+2