9 Pages

Homing and Related Phenomena

Animals that aim at finding food, shelter, or fa­ vorable environmental conditions for feeding or mating may lack any clear information about where they can find what they need. They then perform random or systematic searches until they succeed in their objective. Conversely, if they have information about the location of their target, they move towards the specific area where the desired resource is available. In this latter case they prove that they are capable of goal orientation. With the term homing we in­ dicate a special case of goal orientation, namely, the animal’s return to its resident quarters where a nest, den, or shelter is located. However, the same mechanism(s) may underlie the journeys to any other familiar site that the animal is used to visiting. Therefore, studies on animal hom­ ing take into account any movement directed to reach a specific, spatially restricted familiar area (Papi, 1992b).