Laboratory experiments were carried out to investigate the effects of varying the wavelength of light on the use of an earth-strength magnetic field for shoreward orientation and for the compass component of homing. In the earlier shoreward orientation experiments, newts tested under full-spectrum and short-wavelength (i.e. 400 and 450 nm) light exhibited shoreward magnetic compass orientation. Under long-wavelength (i.e. 550 and 600 nm) light, newts exhibited magnetic compass orientation that was rotated 90 ° counterclockwise to the shoreward direction. This wavelength-dependent shift in magnetic compass orientation was shown to be due to a direct effect of light on the underlying magnetoreception mechanism. In homing experiments, newts tested under full-spectrum and short-wavelength light exhibited homeward magnetic compass orientation. Under long-wavelength light, newts were randomly distributed with respect to the magnetic field. The different effects of long-wavelength light on shoreward orientation and homing confirmed earlier evidence that different magnetoreception systems mediate these two forms of orientation behaviour. The properties of the newt's homing response are consistent with the use of a hybrid magnetoreception system receiving inputs from the light-dependent magnetic compass and from a non-light-dependent intensity (or inclination) detector which, unlike the compass, is sensitive to the polarity of the magnetic field.

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