Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 199, Issue 7, pp 619–628

Use of a light-dependent magnetic compass for y-axis orientation in European common frog (Rana temporaria) tadpoles

  • Francisco J. Diego-Rasilla
  • Rosa M. Luengo
  • John B. Phillips
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00359-013-0811-0

Cite this article as:
Diego-Rasilla, F.J., Luengo, R.M. & Phillips, J.B. J Comp Physiol A (2013) 199: 619. doi:10.1007/s00359-013-0811-0


We provide evidence for the use of a magnetic compass for y-axis orientation (i.e., orientation along the shore-deep water axis) by tadpoles of the European common frog (Rana temporaria). Furthermore, our study provides evidence for a wavelength-dependent effect of light on magnetic compass orientation in amphibians. Tadpoles trained and then tested under full-spectrum light displayed magnetic compass orientation that coincided with the trained shore-deep water axes of their training tanks. Conversely, tadpoles trained under long-wavelength (≥500 nm) light and tested under full-spectrum light, and tadpoles trained under full-spectrum light and tested under long-wavelength (≥500 nm) light, exhibited a 90° shift in magnetic compass orientation relative to the trained y-axis direction. Our results are consistent with earlier studies showing that the observed 90° shift in the direction of magnetic compass orientation under long-wavelength (≥500 nm) light is due to a direct effect of light on the underlying magnetoreception mechanism. These findings also show that wavelength-dependent effects of light do not compromise the function of the magnetic compass under a wide range of natural lighting conditions, presumably due to a large asymmetry in the relatively sensitivity of antagonistic short- and long-wavelength inputs to the light-dependent magnetic compass.


Anuran Magnetic compass Light-dependent magnetoreception Rana temporaria y-axis orientation 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francisco J. Diego-Rasilla
    • 1
  • Rosa M. Luengo
    • 2
  • John B. Phillips
    • 3
  1. 1.Departamento de Biología AnimalUniversidad de Salamanca, Campus Miguel de UnamunoSalamancaSpain
  2. 2.Gabinete de Iniciativas Socioculturales y de Formación S.L.SalamancaSpain
  3. 3.Department of Biological SciencesVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA

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