Multiscale description of avian migration: from chemical compass to behaviour modeling

J. Boiden Pedersen, Claus Nielsen, Ilia A. Solov'yov
Scientific Reports
6
36709
2016
abstract
Despite decades of research the puzzle of the magnetic sense of migratory songbirds has still not beenunveiled. Although the problem really needs a multiscale description, most of the individual research
efforts were focused on single scale investigations. Here we seek to establish a multiscale link between
some of the scales involved, and in particular construct a bridge between electron spin dynamics and
migratory bird behaviour. In order to do that, we first consider a model cyclic reaction scheme that
could form the basis of the avian magnetic compass. This reaction features a fast spin-dependent
process which leads to an unusually precise compass. We then propose how the reaction could be
realized in a realistic molecular environment, and argue that it is consistent with the known facts about
avian magnetoreception. Finally we show how the microscopic dynamics of spins could possibly be
interpreted by a migrating bird and used for the navigational purpose.