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The Light-dependent Magnetic Compass

  • Rachel Muheim
  • Lars Olof Björn
Publishing year: 2007
Language: English
Pages: 465-478
Publication/Series: Photobiology – The Science of Light and Life
Document type: Book chapter
Publisher: Springer

Abstract english

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.


  • Biological Sciences
  • Zoology


  • ISBN: 978-0-387-72654-0
Rachel Muheim
E-mail: rachel [dot] muheim [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se


Functional zoology

+46 46 222 31 93



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