David Dreyer

David Dreyer


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The theory of a putative magnetic compass sense was already mentioned by A. von Middendorf in 1855 to explain the navigational skills of migratory birds.

Ever since, a vast body of evidence has grown, demonstrating the ability to detect and use magnetic field information e.g. as a compass cue in a variety of animal species. However, remarkably little is known about the physiological mechanism underlying magnetoreception in the animal kingdom.

So where are the sensors, how do they work and what are their properties?

An animal that could hold the solution to this enigma is the Australian Bogong moth Agrotis infusa.

Bogong moths make a yearly migration over enormous distances, flying south from southern Queensland (Australia) to the alpine regions of New South Wales (Australia), returning again several months later. Preliminary behavioral experiments using flight simulators set up en route during the moth’s migratory period at nighttime suggest the presence of a magnetic compass sense.

During my studies in Marburg (Germany) my research was focused on the morphology and the neurochemistry of the insect CNS with special emphasis on the brain of the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum and its olfactory system. The main topic of my PhD thesis in Oldenburg (Germany) was the neuronal basis of the avian magnetic compass sense, and the perception of polarized light in the avian retina.

The goal of my current project in the Lund is to use electrophysiological and behavioral assays combined with magnetic stimulation in the Bogong moth, which might enable us to unravel the sensory basis of magnetoreception.

UKÄ subject classification

  • Zoology


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