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Spectral Systems in the Rabbit's Retina

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

1. The photopic spectral sensitivity of wild rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) was measured by means of threshold determinations in an automatic two-choice apparatus. 2. Both the retinal spectral sensitivity curve and the spectral sensitivity of photoreceptor systems that are contributing to this curve were estimated by means of a computerprogram. 3. The estimated spectral sensitivity curve clearly shows two maxima. It is based on the contribution of three receptorsystems, with maxima at wavelengths of 405 nm, 470 nm and 523 nm. 4. The "blue sensitive" system (λmax = 470 nm) and "green sensitive" system (λmax = 523 nm) have earlier been reported to exist in groundsquirrels. The "violet sensitive" system (λmax = 405 nm), however, is typical for the rabbit. Contrary to the groundsquirrel's, the rabbit's dioptrics transmit violet light. From this point of view a "violet sensitive" receptor system in the rabbit's retina is functional. 5. On the basis of the three receptor systems trichromatic vision is possible. 6. Emphasis is laid on the relation between the energy spectrum around twilight-the period rabbits are most active-and the spectral sensitivities of the three photoreceptor systems, which seem well adapted to the ambient light circumstances.

Affiliations: 1: Laboratory of Comparative Physiology, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands


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