Milan Becker, BSc
In my master thesis in Basil's lab, I am interested in understanding how different celestial cues are processed in the monarch butterfly’s orientation compass. Amongst others, polarized skylight might play an important role as an orientation reference when their main cue, the sun, is covered by clouds. But how are these cues (sun and polarized light) integrated in the brain and does the combination of these celestial cues improve the butterfly's orientation precision? To study this, I am performing tetrode recordings from the butterfly brain, more precisely from the central complex, while simultaneously presenting simulated celestial cues to the animal. In addition, I am analyzing the monarch butterflies’ orientation to simulated celestial cues through behavioral experiments, in which the animals are tethered at the center of a flight arena.