Photobiology pp 465-478 | Cite as

The Light-Dependent Magnetic Compass

  • Rachel Muheim


Animals can detect different parameters of the geomagnetic field by two principal independent magnetoreception mechanisms: (1) a light-dependent process detecting the axial course and the inclination angle of the geomagnetic field lines, providing the animals with magnetic compass information (inclination compass), and (2) a magnetite-mediated process, providing magnetic map information (map sense). In vertebrates like birds and newts, light-dependent magnetic compass orientation depends on both wavelength and intensity of light, and experimental evidence suggests that magnetic compass information is perceived by magneto-sensitive photoreceptors, possibly containing cryptochromes, in the retina or the pineal.


Magnetic Field Line Magnetic Field Effect Pied Flycatcher Magnetic Compass Magnetic Orientation 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

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  • Rachel Muheim

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