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Spectral sensitivities of ants – a review

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image of Animal Biology

Ants constitute one of the most intriguing animal groups with their advanced social lifes, different life histories and sensory modalities, one of which is vision. Chemosensation dominates all other modalities in the accomplishment of different vital tasks, but vision, varying from total blindness in some species to a relatively well-developed vision providing ants the basis for visually-guided behaviors, is also of importance. Although studies on ant vision mainly focused on recognition of and guidance by landmark cues in artificial and/or natural conditions, spectral sensitivities of their compound eyes and ocelli were also disclosed, but to a lesser extent. In this review, we have tried to present current data on the spectral sensitivities of the different ant species tested so far and the different methodological approaches. The results, as well as the similarities and/or discrepancies of the methodologies applied, were compared. General tendencies in ants’ spectral sensitivities are presented in a comparative manner and the role of opsins and ant ocelli in their spectral sensitivity is discussed in addition to the sensitivity of ants to long wavelengths. Extraocular sensitivity was also shown in some ant species. The advantages and/or disadvantages of a dichromatic and trichromatic color vision system are discussed from an ecological perspective.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, Balkan Campus, Trakya University, 22030 Edirne, Turkey

*Corresponding author; e-mail:

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