Avian Magnetoreception

  • Alan LewisEmail author
Part of the Springer Theses book series (Springer Theses)


In 2000, Ritz and Schulten proposed that a radical pair reaction could be responsible for the magnetoreception observed in some birds [1]. This suggestion gained further traction in 2008, when Maeda et al. showed that the recombination rate of a carotenoid-porphyrin-fullerene radical pair was affected by the application of an Earth-strength magnetic field [2]. At the same time, substantial circumstantial evidence for the involvement of a radical pair reaction in the avian compass was mounting. However, in order for such a reaction to act as a biological compass, it must have an anisotropic response to an Earth-strength magnetic field. This has not yet been observed experimentally, so theoretical studies of the cryptochrome-based radical pair thought to be responsible for magnetoreception are required to assess the likelihood of this mechanism being the basis of the magnetic compass of migratory birds.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The James Franck InstituteUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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