Scientists have found some of the molecular mechanisms that cause the birds to travel from place to place at night. Research article appeared in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, a short writing on New Scientist.
The scientists worked with 14 European populations blackcap Sylvia atricapilla, who spend the summer in northern Europe, and in the winter move to the southern part or in North Africa. Usually these birds are active during the day, but during migration they make flights at night.
Authors took blood samples from birds, DNA isolated and tested the activity of certain genes related to circadian rhythms, at different times. It was found that nocturnal activity "tied" to a gene ADCYAP1, with some alleles (variants) of this gene fit more birds restlessness at night.
ADCYAP1 gene encodes a protein called PACAP, which is involved in the regulation of melatonin synthesis, activity, metabolism and digestion. It is these processes change in birds, preparing for night flights.
Colleagues authors are well taken them a new job, but noted that the observed relationship is only a small part of all the processes that govern the behavior of migratory birds.
Recently, another group of scientists studied another aspect to the migration of birds. In traveling birds navigate by the magnetic field of the Earth. As a result of experiments, scientists found that they literally see it.