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Title: Avian orientation: the pulse effect is mediated by the magnetite receptors in the upper beak
Contributor(s): Wiltschko, Wolfgang (author); Munro, Ursula (author); Ford, Hugh A (author); Wiltschko, Roswitha (author)
Publication Date: 2009
DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2009.0050
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Abstract: Migratory silvereyes treated with a strong magnetic pulse shift their headings by approximately 90°, indicating an involvement of magnetite-based receptors in the orientation process. Structures containing superparamagnetic magnetite have been described in the inner skin at the edges of the upper beak of birds, while single-domain magnetite particles are indicated in the nasal cavity. To test which of these structures mediate the pulse effect, we subjected migratory silvereyes, 'Zosterops l. lateralis', to a strong pulse, and then tested their orientation, while the skin of their upper beak was anaesthetized with a local anaesthetic to temporarily deactivate the magnetite-containing structures there. After the pulse, birds without anaesthesia showed the typical shift, whereas when their beak was anaesthetized, they maintained their original headings. This indicates that the superparamagnetic magnetite-containing structures in the skin of the upper beak are most likely the magnetoreceptors that cause the change in headings observed after pulse treatment.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 276(1665), p. 2227-2232
Publisher: The Royal Society Publishing
Place of Publication: United Kingdom
ISSN: 0962-8452
Field of Research (FOR): 060801 Animal Behaviour
060807 Animal Structure and Function
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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