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Rachel Muheim

My research focuses on how animals perceive and use information from the Earth's magnetic field for orientation and navigation. I am particularly interested in the behavioural and physiological mechanisms of magnetic compass orientation in birds and in answering fundamental questions on the biophysical properties of light-dependent magnetoreception, on the functional characteristics of magnetic compass orientation, and on the interaction of the magnetic compass with other compass systems, specifically polarized light cues.

Recently, I have also started to investigate polarized light sensitivity in birds, which together with magnetoreception remains one of the unresolved mysteries in sensory physiology. I primarily use behavioural assays (orientation experiments with migratory birds and spatial orientation experiments with zebra finches) to answer my research questions, but I also study the orientation of free-flying birds under natural conditions by radio telemetry.

I finished my PhD on magnetic orientation in migratory birds in 2004 at the Department of Animal Ecology at Lund University. During 4 years I worked as a postdoc in Prof. John Phillips' lab at Virginia Tech on magnetic navigation in newts, magnetic compass orientation in C57BL/6J mice, and the calibration of the magnetic compass by polarized light cues in birds. In 2008 I came back to Lund for an Assistant Professorship and am since recently located in the Lund Vision Group.


(fetched from Lund University's publications database)


Rachel Muheim
E-mail: rachel.muheim [at]


Functional zoology

+46 46 222 31 93



Centre for Animal Movement Research
Evolutionary Ecology, Department of Biology
Ecology building S-223 62 Lund Sweden