Rachel Muheim

Rachel Muheim


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Personal profile


Ever since my childhood, I have been interested in nature, and in birds, specifically. This interest has led to countless hours enjoying, observing, and counting birds and other wildlife, trips to some of the most remote corners on Earth and encounters with many interesting people. Even though I don't have as much time nowadays, I spend most of my vacations traveling to different parts of the world in the search for birds that I haven't seen before!

During my first year of Biology studies at the University of Zürich I started to volunteer at bird ringing stations and became a licensed bird ringer. Fascinated by the question how migratory birds find their way when traveling between their breeding and wintering areas, I did my Master's theses on the orientation of passerine migrants at Col de Bretolet, a beautifully situated ringing station in the Swiss Alps!

My interest in the research on the orientation of migratory birds brought me in 1998 to Lund, where I joined the Bird Migration Group at the Department of Animal Ecology for a PhD on magnetic orientation in migratory birds, which I finished in 2004. My growing interest in magnetic orientation not only in birds, but animals in general, led me to John Phillips' lab at Virginia Tech for a 4-year postdoc, where I worked on magnetic navigation in newts, magnetic compass orientation in C57BL/6J mice, and the calibration of the magnetic compass by polarized light cues in birds.

In spring 2008, I returned to Lund to set up my own research on the behavioural and physiological mechanisms of magnetic orientation and navigation in birds. I am particularly interested in answering fundamental questions on the biophysical properties of light-dependent magnetoreception, on the functional characteristics of magnetic compass orientation, and on the interaction of the magnetic compass with other compass systems, specifically polarized light cues. Recently, I have also started to investigate polarized light sensitivity in birds, which together with magnetoreception remains one of the unresolved mysteries in sensory physiology. I primarily use behavioural assays (orientation experiments with migratory birds and spatial orientation experiments with zebra finches) to answer my research questions, but I also study the orientation of free-flying birds under natural conditions by radio telemetry.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water

UKÄ subject classification

  • Zoology


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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