Light-dependent models of magnetoreception have been proposed which involve an interaction between the magnetic field and either magnetite particles located within a photoreceptor or excited states of photopigment molecules. Consistent with a photoreceptor-based magnetic compass mechanism, magnetic orientation responses in salamanders, flies and birds have been shown to be affected by the wavelength of light. In birds and flies, it is unclear whether the effects of light on magnetic orientation are due to a direct effect on a magnetoreception system or to a nonspecific (e.g. motivational) effect of light on orientation behavior. Evidence from shoreward-orienting salamanders, however, demonstrates that salamanders perceive a 90 degrees counterclockwise shift in the direction of the magnetic field under long-wavelength (>=500 nm) light. A simple physiological model based on the antagonistic interaction between two magnetically sensitive spectral mechanisms suggests one possible way in which the wavelength-dependent effects of light on the salamander's magnetic compass response might arise. Assuming that the wavelength-dependent characteristics of the avian magnetic response can be attributed to an underlying magnetoreception system, we discuss several hypotheses attempting to resolve the differences observed in the wavelength-dependent effects of light on magnetic orientation in birds and salamanders. By considering the evidence in the context of photoreceptor- and non-photoreceptor-based mechanisms for magnetoreception, we hope to encourage future studies designed to distinguish between alternative hypotheses concerning the influence of light on magnetoreception.

REFERENCES

Beason
R. C.
,
Dussourd
N.
,
Deutschlander
M. E.
(
1995
).
Behavioral evidence for the use of magnetic material in magnetoreception by a migratory bird
.
J. Exp. Biol
198
,
141
–.
Beason
R. C.
,
Nichols
J. E.
(
1984
).
Magnetic orientation and magnetically sensitive material in a transequatorial migratory bird
.
Nature
309
,
151
–.
Beason
R. C.
,
Semm
P.
(
1996
).
Does the avian ophthalmic nerve carry magnetic navigational information?
.
J. Exp. Biol
199
,
1241
–.
Betancur
C.
,
Dell'Omo
G.
,
Alleva
E.
(
1994
).
Magnetic field effects on stress-induced analgesia in mice: modulation by light
.
Neurosci. Lett
182
,
147
–.
Bowmaker
J. K.
,
Heath
L. A.
,
Wilkie
S. E.
,
Hunt
D. M.
(
1997
).
Visual pigments and oil droplets in six classes of photoreceptor in the retinas of birds
.
Vision Res
37
,
2183
–.
Bridges
C. D. B.
(
1967
).
Spectroscopic properties of porphyropsins
.
Vision Res
7
,
349
–.
DelSeppia
C.
,
Luschi
P.
,
Papi
F.
(
1996
).
Influence of emotional factors on the initial orientation of pigeons
.
Anim. Behav
52
,
33
–.
Demaine
C.
,
Semm
P.
(
1985
).
The avian pineal as an independent magnetic sensor
.
Neurosci. Lett
62
,
119
–.
Deutschlander
M. E.
,
Phillips
J. B.
(
1995
).
Characterization of an ultraviolet mechanism in the retina of an amphibian, the axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum)
.
Neurosci. Letters
197
,
93
–.
Dodt
E.
,
Heerd
E.
(
1962
).
Mode of action of pineal nerve fibers in frogs
.
J. Neurophysiol
25
,
405
–.
Edmonds
D. T.
(
1996
).
A sensitive optically detected magnetic compass for animals
.
Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B
263
,
295
–.
Eldred
W. D.
,
Nolte
J.
(
1978
).
Pineal photoreceptors: Evidence for a vertebrate visual pigment with two physiologically active states
.
Vision Res
18
,
29
–.
Goldsmith
T. H.
(
1994
).
Ultraviolet receptors and color vision: evolutionary implications and dissonance paradigms
.
Vision Res
34
,
1479
–.
Goldsmith
T. H.
,
Collins
J. S.
,
Licht
S.
(
1984
).
The cone oil droplets of avian retinas
.
Vision Res
24
,
1661
–.
Gould
J. L.
(
1980
).
The case for magnetic sensitivity in birds and bees (such as it is)
.
Am. Scient
68
,
256
–.
Grissom
C. B.
(
1995
).
Magnetic field effects in biology: a survey of possible mechanisms with emphasis on radical-pair recombination
.
Chem. Rev
95
,
3
–.
Hailman
J. P.
,
Jaeger
R. G.
(
1974
).
Phototactic responses to spectrally dominant stimuli and use of color vision by adult anuran amphibians: a comparative study
.
Anim. Behav
22
,
757
–.
Hardie
R. C.
,
Kirschfeld
K.
(
1983
).
Ultraviolet sensitivity of fly photoreceptors Rand and R8: evidence for a sensitizing function
.
Biophys. Struct. Mech
9
,
171
–.
Jacobs
G. H.
(
1992
).
Ultraviolet photoreceptors in vertebrates
.
Am. Zool
32
,
544
–.
Kirschvink
J. L.
,
Gould
J. L.
(
1981
).
Biogenic magnetite as a basis for magnetic field detection in animals
.
Biosystems
13
,
181
–.
Leask
M. J. M.
(
1977
).
A physiochemical mechanism for magnetic field detection by migratory birds and homing pigeons
.
Nature
267
,
144
–.
Light
P.
,
Salmon
M.
,
Lohmann
K. J.
(
1993
).
Geomagnetic orientation of loggerhead sea turtles: evidence for an inclination compass
.
J. Exp. Biol
182
,
1
–.
Lohmann
K. J.
(
1991
).
Magnetic orientation by hatchling loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta)
.
J. Exp. Biol
155
,
37
–.
Lohmann
K. J.
,
Lohmann
C. M. F.
(
1993
).
A light-independent magnetic compass in the leatherback sea turtle
.
Biol. Bull
185
,
149
–.
Lohmann
K. J.
,
Lohmann
C. M. F.
(
1994
).
Detection of magnetic inclination angle by sea turtles: a possible mechanism for determining latitude
.
J. Exp. Biol
194
,
23
–.
Lohmann
K. J.
,
Lohmann
C. M. F.
(
1996
).
Detection of magnetic field intensity by sea turtles
.
Nature
380
,
59
–.
Luschi
P.
,
Delseppia
C.
,
Crosio
E.
,
Papi
F.
(
1996
).
Pigeon homing: evidence against reliance on magnetic information picked up en route to release sites
.
Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B
263
,
1219
–.
Mann
S.
,
Sparks
N. H. C.
,
Walker
M. M.
,
Kirschvink
J. L.
(
1988
).
Ultrastructure, morphology and organization of biogenic magnetite from sockeye salmon, Oncorhynchus nerka: implications for magnetoreception
.
J. Exp. Biol
140
,
35
–.
Marhold
S.
,
Wiltschko
W.
(
1997
).
A magnetic polarity compass for direction finding in a subterranean mammal
.
Naturwissenschaften
84
,
421
–.
Munro
U.
,
Munro
J. A.
,
Phillips
J. B.
(
1997
).
Evidence for a magnetite-based navigational ‘map’ in birds
.
Naturwissenschaften
84
,
26
–.
Munro
U.
,
Munro
J. A.
,
Phillips
J. B.
,
Wiltschko
W.
(
1997
).
Effect of wavelength of light and pulse magnetization on different magnetoreception systems in a migratory bird
.
Aust. J. Zool
45
,
189
–.
Muntz
R. A.
(
1962
).
Effectiveness of different colors of light in releasing the positive phototaxic behavior of frogs, an a possible function of the retinal projection to the diencephalon
.
J. Neurophysiol
25
,
712
–.
Muntz
R. A.
(
1966
).
The photopositive response of the frog (Rana pipiens) under photopic and scotopic conditions
.
J. Exp. Biol
45
,
101
–.
Okano
T.
,
Yoshizawa
T.
,
Fukada
Y.
(
1994
).
Pinopsin is a chicken pineal photoreceptive molecule
.
Nature
372
,
94
–.
Olcese
J.
,
Reuss
S.
,
Stehle
J.
,
Steinlechner
S.
,
Vollrath
L.
(
1988
).
Responses to the mammalian retina to experimental alteration of the ambient magnetic field
.
Brain Res
448
,
325
–.
Olcese
J.
,
Reuss
S.
,
Vollrath
L.
(
1985
).
Evidence for the involvement of the visual system in mediating magnetic field effects in pineal melatonin synthesis in the rat
.
Brain Res
333
,
382
–.
Phillips
J. B.
(
1986
).
Two magnetoreception pathways in a migratory salamander
.
Science
233
,
765
–.
Phillips
J. B.
(
1987
).
Laboratory studies of homing orientation in the Eastern red-spotted newt (Notophthalmus viridescens)
.
J. Exp. Biol
131
,
215
–.
Phillips
J. B.
(
1996
).
Magnetic navigation
.
J. Theor. Biol
180
,
309
–.
Phillips
J. B.
,
Adler
K.
,
Borland
S. C.
(
1995
).
True navigation by an amphibian
.
Anim. Behav
50
,
855
–.
Phillips
J. B.
,
Borland
S. C.
(
1992
).
Behavioral evidence for the use of a light-dependent magnetoreception mechanism by a vertebrate
.
Nature
359
,
142
–.
Phillips
J. B.
,
Borland
S. C.
(
1992
).
Magnetic compass orientation is eliminated under near-infrared light in the eastern red-spotted newt Notophthalmus viridescens
.
Anim. Behav
44
,
796
–.
Phillips
J. B.
,
Borland
S. C.
(
1994
).
Use of a specialized magnetoreception system for homing by the eastern red-spotted newt Notophthalmus viridescens
.
J. Exp. Biol
188
,
275
–.
Prato
F. S.
,
Kavaliers
M.
,
Carson
J. J. L.
(
1996
).
Behavioral evidence that magnetic field effect in the land snail, Cepea nemoralis, might not depend on magnetite or induced electric currents
.
Bioelectromagnetics
17
,
123
–.
Prato
F. S.
,
Kavaliers
M.
,
Carson
J. J. L.
(
1996
).
Behavioral responses to magnetic fields by land snails are dependent on both magnetic field direction and light
.
Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B
263
,
1437
–.
Prato
F. S.
,
Kavaliers
M.
,
Thomas
A. W.
,
Ossenkopp
K.-P.
(
1998
).
Modulatory actions of light on the behavioral responses to magnetic field by land snails probably occur at the magnetic field detection level
.
Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B
265
,
367
–.
Quinn
T. P.
,
Merrill
R. T.
,
Brannon
E. L.
(
1981
).
Magnetic field detection in sockeye salmon
.
J. Exp. Zool
217
,
137
–.
Reiter
R. J.
(
1992
).
Alterations in the circadian melatonin rhythm by the electromagnetic spectrum: a study in environmental toxicology
.
Regul. Toxicol. Pharmac
15
,
226
–.
Reuss
S.
,
Olcese
J.
(
1986
).
Magnetic field effects on rat pineal gland: role of retinal activation by light
.
Neurosci. Lett
64
,
97
–.
Semm
P.
(
1983
).
Neurobiological investigations of the magnetic sensitivity of the pineal gland in rodents and pigeons
.
J. Comp. Biochem. Physiol
76
,
683
–.
Semm
P.
,
Beason
R. C.
(
1990
).
Responses to small magnetic variations by the trigeminal system of the bobolink
.
Brain Res. Bull
25
,
735
–.
Semm
P.
,
Demaine
C.
(
1986
).
Electrical responses to direct and indirect photic stimulation of the pineal gland of the pigeon
.
J. Neural Transm
58
,
281
–.
Semm
P.
,
Schneider
T.
,
Vollrath
L.
(
1980
).
Effects of an earth-strength magnetic field on electrical activity of pineal cells
.
Nature
288
,
607
–.
Shichi
H.
,
Lewis
M. S.
,
Irreverre
F.
,
Stone
A. L.
(
1969
).
Biochemistry of visual pigments. I. Purification and properties of bovine rhodopsin
.
J. Biol. Chem
244
,
529
–.
Solessio
E.
,
Engbretson
G.
(
1993
).
Antagonistic chromatic mechanisms in photoreceptors of the parietal eye of lizards
.
Nature
364
,
442
–.
Walker
M. M.
,
Kirschvink
J. L.
,
Chang
S.-B. R.
,
Dizon
A. E.
(
1984
).
A candidate magnetoreceptor in the yellowfin tuna, Thunnus albacares
.
Science
224
,
751
–.
Walker
M. W.
,
Diebel
C. E.
,
Haugh
C. V.
,
Pankhurst
P. M.
,
Montgomery
J. C.
,
Green
C. R.
(
1997
).
Structure andfunction of the vertebrate magnetic sense
.
Nature
390
,
371
–.
Welker
H. A.
,
Semm
P.
,
Willig
R. P.
,
Commentz
J. C.
,
Wiltschko
W.
,
Vollrath
L.
(
1983
).
Effects of an artificial magnetic field on serotonin N-acetyltransferase activity and melatonin content in the rat pineal gland
.
Exp. Brain Res
50
,
426
–.
Wilson
B. W.
,
Stevens
R. G.
,
Anderson
L. E.
(
1989
).
Neuroendocrine mediated effects of electromagnetic-field exposure: Possible role of the pineal gland
.
Life Sci
45
,
1319
–.
Wiltschko
R.
(
1983
).
The ontogeny of orientation in young pigeons
.
Comp. Biochem. Physiol
76
,
701
–.
Wiltschko
R.
,
Wiltschko
W.
(
1978
).
Evidence for the use of magnetic outward-journey information in homing pigeons
.
Naturwissenschaften
65
,
112
–.
Wiltschko
R.
,
Wiltschko
W.
(
1981
).
Disorientation of inexperienced young pigeons after transportation in total darkness
.
Nature
291
,
433
–.
Wiltschko
R.
,
Wiltschko
W.
(
1985
).
Pigeon homing: change in navigational strategy during ontogeny
.
Anim. Behav
33
,
583
–.
Wiltschko
R.
,
Wiltschko
W.
(
1998
).
Pigeon homing andmagnetic fields: a response to Luschi et al. (1996)
.
Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B
265
,
1203
–.
Wiltschko
R.
,
Wiltschko
W.
(
1998
).
Pigeon homing: Effect of various wavelengths of light during displacement
.
Naturwissenschaften
85
,
164
–.
Wiltschko
W.
,
Munro
U.
,
Beason
R. C.
,
Ford
H.
,
Wiltschko
R.
(
1994
).
A magnetic pulse leads to a temporary deflection in the orientation of migratory birds
.
Experientia
50
,
697
–.
Wiltschko
W.
,
Munro
U.
,
Ford
H.
,
Wiltschko
R.
(
1993
).
Red light disrupts magnetic orientation of migratory birds
.
Nature
364
,
525
–.
Wiltschko
W.
,
Wiltschko
R.
(
1972
).
Magnetic compass orientation in European robins
.
Science
172
,
62
–.
Yellon
S. M.
(
1994
).
Acute 60Hz magnetic field exposure on the melatonin rhythm in the pineal gland and circulation of the adult Djungarian Hamster
.
J. Pineal Res
16
,
136
–.
Yellon
S. M.
(
1996
).
60Hz magnetic field exposures effects on the melatonin rhythm and photoperiod control of reproduction
.
Am. J. Physiol
270
,
816
–.
Yorke
E. D.
(
1979
).
A possible magnetic transducer in birds
.
J. Theor. Biol
77
,
101
–.
Yorke
E. D.
(
1981
).
Sensitivity of pigeons to small magnetic field variations
.
J. Theor. Biol
89
,
533
–.
This content is only available via PDF.