Way-finding and landmarks: The multiple-bearings hypothesis

A. C. Kamil, K. Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


Clark's nutcrackers (Nucifraga columbiana) are capable of very precise searching using the metric relationships between a goal and multiple landmarks to relocate the goal location. They can judge the direction more accurately than the distance to a landmark when the landmark is distant from the goal. On the basis of these findings, we propose that nutcrackers use a set of bearings, each a measure of the direction from the goal to a different landmark, when searching for that goal. The results of a simulation demonstrate that increasing the number of landmarks used results in increasingly precise searching. This multiple-bearings hypothesis makes a series of detailed predictions about how the distribution of searches will vary as a function of the geometry of the locations of the relevant landmarks and the goal. It also suggests an explanation for inconsistencies in the literature on the effects of clock-shifts on searching and on homing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-113
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001


  • Clark's nutcracker
  • Landmark
  • Navigation
  • Nucifraga columbiana
  • Way-finding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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