Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society

Meixuan Liu

Department / group: School of Geography and Sustainable Development
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Title: Studying olfactory navigation in seabirds with a spatial data science approach.
The role of olfactory cues in the navigation of pelagic migratory seabirds is debated. The olfactory navigation hypothesis suggests that birds use their sense of smell to sense the concentration distribution of compounds in the atmosphere to learn gradient maps and navigate based on information about odours brought by the wind. However, current experiments have focused on homing pigeons and no studies have examined migratory seabirds using geospatial approaches with a large-scale and fine spatio-temporal resolution. This study aimed to test the olfactory navigation hypothesis under the migrating seabird context using a geographic data science approach. Geographic tools and bird movement models will be developed. Remote sensing, data fusion, spatio-temporal analysis, and data mining will be applied to examine whether and to what extent olfactory cues were utilised for navigation, and the roles by which olfactory cues and other navigational cues in Manx Shearwater’s migratory and foraging activities in the Atlantic Ocean over 10 years.

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