Year of publication
- 2010 (1) (remove)
- Interaction of magnetite-based receptors in the beak with the visual system underlying "fixed direction" responses in birds (2010)
- Background: European robins, Erithacus rubecula, show two types of directional responses to the magnetic field: (1) compass orientation that is based on radical pair processes and lateralized in favor of the right eye and (2) so-called 'fixed direction' responses that originate in the magnetite-based receptors in the upper beak. Both responses are light-dependent. Lateralization of the 'fixed direction' responses would suggest an interaction between the two magnetoreception systems. Results: Robins were tested with either the right or the left eye covered or with both eyes uncovered for their orientation under different light conditions. With 502 nm turquoise light, the birds showed normal compass orientation, whereas they displayed an easterly 'fixed direction' response under a combination of 502 nm turquoise with 590 nm yellow light. Monocularly right-eyed birds with their left eye covered were oriented just as they were binocularly as controls: under turquoise in their northerly migratory direction, under turquoise-and-yellow towards east. The response of monocularly left-eyed birds differed: under turquoise light, they were disoriented, reflecting a lateralization of the magnetic compass system in favor of the right eye, whereas they continued to head eastward under turquoise-and-yellow light. Conclusion: 'Fixed direction' responses are not lateralized. Hence the interactions between the magnetite-receptors in the beak and the visual system do not seem to involve the magnetoreception system based on radical pair processes, but rather other, non-lateralized components of the visual system.