Structure and function of the vertebrate magnetic sense

  title={Structure and function of the vertebrate magnetic sense},
  author={Michael M Walker and Carol E. Diebel and Cordula V. Haugh and Patricia M. Pankhurst and John C Montgomery and Colin R. Green},
Some vertebrates can navigate over long distances using the Earth's magnetic field, but the sensory system that they use to do so has remained a mystery. Here we describe the key components of a magnetic sense underpinning this navigational ability in a single species, the rainbow trout ( Oncorhynchus mykiss). We report behavioural and electrophysiological responses to magnetic fields and identify an area in the nose of the trout where candidate magnetoreceptor cells are located. We have… 
Magnetoreception , the neurobiology of
The difference between a magnetic compass and a magnetic map sense is described, the three major hypothesized transduction mechanisms for magnetic field detection are reviewed, and an overview of recent neurophysiologic advances are reviewed.
Avian magnetite-based magnetoreception: a physiologist's perspective
The aims of the present review are to review the evidence for a magnetite-based mechanism in birds and to introduce physiological concepts in order to refine the proposed models.
The physics and neurobiology of magnetoreception
Despite recent advances, magnetoreceptors have not been identified with certainty in any animal, and the mode of transduction for the magnetic sense remains unknown.
An Avian Magnetometer
How information on Earth's magnetic field is encoded in the pigeon brain is reported and a candidate magnetic sensory organ in the inner ear of the pigeon is suggested.
Detection and Use of the Earth’s Magnetic Field by Aquatic Vertebrates
The magnetic sense of aquatic vertebrates appears to be selective for the magnetic field stimulus, and is likely to be highly sensitive to small changes in magnetic fields, with its detector cells operating at close to the limit set by background thermal energy.
The Magnetic Senses
The Earth’s magnetic field potentially provides information which can help animals to navigate over both short and long distances. Magnetic information can be useful to determine position (i.e., as
Magnetite-based magnetoreception
No evidence for intracellular magnetite in putative vertebrate magnetoreceptors identified by magnetic screening
A “magnetoscope” coupled with single-cell correlative light and electron microscopy is used to identify candidate magnetoreceptors in the pigeon and trout, illustrating the need for new methods to test the magnetite hypothesis of magnetosensation.
Magnetoreception and its use in bird navigation


Does the avian ophthalmic nerve carry magnetic navigational information?
  • Beason, Semm
  • Biology
    The Journal of experimental biology
  • 1996
Results are consistent with the hypothesis that a magnetizable material such as magnetite is part of the magnetoreceptors that are associated with the ophthalmic nerve, and the ability of the bird to select and maintain a direction is not affected.
Behavioural evidence for use of a light-dependent magnetoreception mechanism by a vertebrate
It is shown that magnetic compass orientation in a semiaquatic salamander is affected by the wavelength of light, and that this wavelength-dependence is due to a direct effect of light on the underlying magnetoreception mechanism.
Behavioural evidence for the use of magnetic material in magnetoreception by a migratory bird
Evidence is provided for the use of a magnetic material (probably magnetite) by a vertebrate to detect the earth's magnetic field and the role of magnetite in bobolink orientation was assessed, indicating an effect specific to a particle-based magnetoreceptor.
A physicochemical mechanism for magnetic field detection by migratory birds and homing pigeons
A mechanism in principle which would overcome the basic problem of magnetic field detection by birds, and which also seems to provide an explanation of all the main features of published data is discussed.
Particle-Size Considerations for Magnetite-Based Magnetoreceptors
The presence of a magnetic influence upon behavior now appears to be a fairly common trait among a wide variety of organisms, as outlined and discussed elsewhere in this volume. In a broad manner,
Detection of magnetic field intensity by sea turtles
WHETHER migratory animals can determine their global position by detecting features of the Earth's magnetic field has long been debated1–4. To do this an animal must perceive (at least) two distinct
Magnetic Orientation in Animals
This text details animal orientation with the help of information from the geomagnetic field. It reviews the magnetic effects on spatial behaviour in the various groups of the animal kingdom from
Magnetic orientation in homing pigeons
Homing pigeons appear to use both a "map" and "compass" system to find their way home. Under sunny skies, the sun is used as a compass. But when the sun is obscured, pigeons appear to use the earth's
Biophysics of geomagnetic field detection
In biology, the study of geomagnetic orientation has gained new momentum since the discovery of magnetic field detectors in aquatic organisms. Sharks and rays respond to dc and low frequency voltage
Magnetic field detection in sockeye salmon
The results of experiments designed to compare the magnetosensory system of salmon with those of other organisms indicated that lake-migrating sockeye salmon fry have compass directional preferences, cued in part by magnetic fields.