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Seeing in the dark: vision and visual behaviour in nocturnal bees and wasps.

Warrant, Eric LU (2008) In Journal of Experimental Biology 211(11). p.1737-1746
Abstract
In response to the pressures of predation, parasitism and competition for limited resources, several groups of (mainly) tropical bees and wasps have independently evolved a nocturnal lifestyle. Like their day-active (diurnal) relatives, these insects possess apposition compound eyes, a relatively light-insensitive eye design that is best suited to vision in bright light. Despite this, nocturnal bees and wasps are able to forage at night, with many species capable of flying through a dark and complex forest between the nest and a foraging site, a behaviour that relies heavily on vision and is limited by light intensity. In the two best-studied species - the Central American sweat bee Megalopta genalis (Halictidae) and the Indian carpenter... (More)
In response to the pressures of predation, parasitism and competition for limited resources, several groups of (mainly) tropical bees and wasps have independently evolved a nocturnal lifestyle. Like their day-active (diurnal) relatives, these insects possess apposition compound eyes, a relatively light-insensitive eye design that is best suited to vision in bright light. Despite this, nocturnal bees and wasps are able to forage at night, with many species capable of flying through a dark and complex forest between the nest and a foraging site, a behaviour that relies heavily on vision and is limited by light intensity. In the two best-studied species - the Central American sweat bee Megalopta genalis (Halictidae) and the Indian carpenter bee Xylocopa tranquebarica (Apidae) - learned visual landmarks are used to guide foraging and homing. Their apposition eyes, however, have only around 30 times greater optical sensitivity than the eyes of their closest diurnal relatives, a fact that is apparently inconsistent with their remarkable nocturnal visual abilities. Moreover, signals generated in the photoreceptors, even though amplified by a high transduction gain, are too noisy and slow to transmit significant amounts of information in dim light. How have nocturnal bees and wasps resolved these paradoxes? Even though this question remains to be answered conclusively, a mounting body of theoretical and experimental evidence suggests that the slow and noisy visual signals generated by the photoreceptors are spatially summed by second-order monopolar cells in the lamina, a process that could dramatically improve visual reliability for the coarser and slower features of the visual world at night. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
sensitivity, resolution, landmark orientation, wasp, bee, nocturnal vision, compound eye, spatial summation.
in
Journal of Experimental Biology
volume
211
issue
11
pages
1737 - 1746
publisher
The Company of Biologists Ltd
external identifiers
  • wos:000256069200013
  • scopus:46949109860
ISSN
1477-9145
DOI
10.1242/jeb.015396
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
d16c3a82-ca11-495d-af58-3ed699813ecc (old id 1153966)
date added to LUP
2008-10-22 15:07:17
date last changed
2017-10-22 03:43:22
@article{d16c3a82-ca11-495d-af58-3ed699813ecc,
  abstract     = {In response to the pressures of predation, parasitism and competition for limited resources, several groups of (mainly) tropical bees and wasps have independently evolved a nocturnal lifestyle. Like their day-active (diurnal) relatives, these insects possess apposition compound eyes, a relatively light-insensitive eye design that is best suited to vision in bright light. Despite this, nocturnal bees and wasps are able to forage at night, with many species capable of flying through a dark and complex forest between the nest and a foraging site, a behaviour that relies heavily on vision and is limited by light intensity. In the two best-studied species - the Central American sweat bee Megalopta genalis (Halictidae) and the Indian carpenter bee Xylocopa tranquebarica (Apidae) - learned visual landmarks are used to guide foraging and homing. Their apposition eyes, however, have only around 30 times greater optical sensitivity than the eyes of their closest diurnal relatives, a fact that is apparently inconsistent with their remarkable nocturnal visual abilities. Moreover, signals generated in the photoreceptors, even though amplified by a high transduction gain, are too noisy and slow to transmit significant amounts of information in dim light. How have nocturnal bees and wasps resolved these paradoxes? Even though this question remains to be answered conclusively, a mounting body of theoretical and experimental evidence suggests that the slow and noisy visual signals generated by the photoreceptors are spatially summed by second-order monopolar cells in the lamina, a process that could dramatically improve visual reliability for the coarser and slower features of the visual world at night.},
  author       = {Warrant, Eric},
  issn         = {1477-9145},
  keyword      = {sensitivity,resolution,landmark orientation,wasp,bee,nocturnal vision,compound eye,spatial summation.},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {11},
  pages        = {1737--1746},
  publisher    = {The Company of Biologists Ltd},
  series       = {Journal of Experimental Biology},
  title        = {Seeing in the dark: vision and visual behaviour in nocturnal bees and wasps.},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/jeb.015396},
  volume       = {211},
  year         = {2008},
}