Animal navigation and magnetoreception
A talk by Dr Kirill Kavokin, St Petersburg State University and Sechenov Institute of Evolutionary Physiology and Biochemistry
There is one big natural mystery that has been daunting to scientists to this day: that of animal navigation. Countless species, from birds, fishes, insects and mammals, have the uncanny ability to, not only find their ways with an accuracy that reminds our modern navigating methods but also to target places they have never been to before. The actual mechanism at play remains unknown. One of the several cues available is Earth's magnetic field, which is known to play a role although precisely how or even through which organs of the animal, is still a baffing question. In this lecture, Dr Kirill Kavokin, an expert of the spin dynamics in solids, will first present the unbelievable prowess that animals can perform when tracked on the map. He will then enlighten us on our current understanding of what may be going on, including his own experiments on disrupting the magnetic compass of a songbird migrant, the Garden warbler, with weak oscillating magnetic fields.
About the speaker
Kirill Kavokin (born 26 November 1962 in Leningrad) is a Russian physicist working on solid-state physics, semiconductor optics and spin physics. He also works on animal vision and magnetoreception. He is currently a leading scientist at the Spin Optics Laboratory (SOLAB) at Saint-Petersburg State University (SPbSU) and at the I. M. Sechenov Institute of Evolutionary Physiology and Biochemistry, in Saint Petersburg, Russia. He is the author or co-author of over 200 peer-reviewed publications, with key works on spin relaxation in semiconductors, which he studies at both a theoretical and experimental level. He also applied his knowledge of magnetic phenomena in solids to the problem of animal magnetoreception, in particular of garden warblers.