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Photopic Sensitivity To Red and Blue Light Related To Retinal Differences in Two Zooplanktivorous Haplochromine Species (Teleostei, Cichlidae)

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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).

The photopic system of two selected haplochromine species, raised under laboratory conditions, differs distinctly. The system consists of medium and long wavelength sensitive double cones and short wavelength sensitive single cones. In this study the functional significance of the morphometrical differences of the photopic system is explained by relating them to sensitivity in red or blue light using the optomotor response to determine thresholds. H. pyrrhocephalus with its larger double cones is about twice as sensitive as H. "argens" tested in red light. In blue light its sensitivity equals that of H. "argens", although H. pyrrhocephalus has smaller and fewer single cones. The resulting loss in blue sensitivity may be compensated by the broad absorbancy of its double cone pigments. The threshold differences indicate that the sensitive visual system of H. pyrrhocephalus is tuned to a dim reddish light environment, while the visual system of H. "argens" seems more suited to light of relative high intensity and broad spectral distribution. This difference correlates with the difference in habitat of wild specimens in which retinal differences are even larger. H. "argens" is a surface dweller experiencing bright light of broad spectrum; in such an environment the higher resolution of H. "argens" is advantageous. H. pyrrhocephalus lives in deeper water in which mainly dim red light penetrates; it will benefit from a red light sensitive system at the cost of resolution.

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Evolutionary and Ecological Sciences, van der Klaauw Laboratorium, Kaiserstraat 63, POB 9516, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands


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