Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford


  • Stephen M. KajiuraEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_1777-1



All living organisms maintain homeostasis, which necessitates that the concentration of ions within the body differs from the outside environment. As a result, a voltage develops across the skin. In an aquatic environment, this voltage has the potential to leak out and create a charge distribution around the body. These charges can be detected by specialized organs known as electroreceptors. Because electroreception relies upon a conductive medium in which to operate, it is restricted to aquatic species, or species that forage in moist environments.


Electroreception is an ancient sensory modality that arose at the base of the vertebrate clade (Albert and Crampton 2005). It remains widespread among extant taxa but has been largely lost among the most speciose groups, the amniotes and actinopterygian (ray-finned) fishes. Among the agnathans, it is...

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesFlorida Atlantic UniversityBoca RatonUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Joseph Boomer
    • 1
  1. 1.University at BuffaloBuffaloUSA