The basis of navigation across species

Cody A. Freas, Ken Cheng

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    18 Citations (Scopus)


    Animals navigate a wide range of distances, from a few millimeters to globe-spanning journeys of thousands of kilometers. Despite this array of navigational challenges, similar principles underlie these behaviors across species. Here, we focus on the navigational strategies and supporting mechanisms in four well-known systems: the large-scale migratory behaviors of sea turtles and lepidopterans as well as navigation on a smaller scale by rats and solitarily foraging ants. In lepidopterans, rats, and ants we also discuss the current understanding of the neural architecture which supports navigation. The orientation and navigational behaviors of these animals are defined in terms of behavioral error-reduction strategies reliant on multiple goal-directed servomechanisms. We conclude by proposing to incorporate an additional component into this system: the observation that servomechanisms operate on oscillatory systems of cycling behavior. These oscillators and servomechanisms comprise the basis for directed orientation and navigational behaviors.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)217-241
    Number of pages25
    JournalAnnual Review of Psychology
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


    • Bogong moths
    • Monarch butterflies
    • orientation
    • oscillations
    • rodents
    • servomechanisms


    Dive into the research topics of 'The basis of navigation across species'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this