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Scotopic colour vision in nocturnal hawkmoths

Kelber, Almut LU ; Balkenius, Anna LU and Warrant, Eric LU (2002) In Nature 419(6910). p.922-925
Abstract
Humans are colour-blind at night, and it has been assumed that this is true of all animals. But colour vision is as useful for discriminating objects1 at night as it is during the day. Here we show, through behavioural experiments, that the nocturnal hawkmoth Deilephila elpenor uses colour vision to discriminate coloured stimuli at intensities corresponding to dim starlight (0.0001 cd m-2). It can do this even if the illumination colour changes, thereby showing colour constancya property of true colour vision systems2. In identical conditions humans are completely colour-blind. Our calculations show that the possession of three photoreceptor classes reduces the absolute sensitivity of the eye, which indicates that colour vision has a high... (More)
Humans are colour-blind at night, and it has been assumed that this is true of all animals. But colour vision is as useful for discriminating objects1 at night as it is during the day. Here we show, through behavioural experiments, that the nocturnal hawkmoth Deilephila elpenor uses colour vision to discriminate coloured stimuli at intensities corresponding to dim starlight (0.0001 cd m-2). It can do this even if the illumination colour changes, thereby showing colour constancya property of true colour vision systems2. In identical conditions humans are completely colour-blind. Our calculations show that the possession of three photoreceptor classes reduces the absolute sensitivity of the eye, which indicates that colour vision has a high ecological relevance in nocturnal moths. In addition, the photoreceptors of a single ommatidium absorb too few photons for reliable discrimination, indicating that spatial and/or temporal summation must occur for colour vision to be possible. Taken together, our results show that colour vision occurs at nocturnal intensities in a biologically relevant context (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Nature
volume
419
issue
6910
pages
922 - 925
publisher
Nature Publishing Group
external identifiers
  • pmid:12410310
  • wos:000178909700043
  • scopus:0037206867
ISSN
0028-0836
DOI
10.1038/nature01065
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
308383e9-08cb-449c-96a4-eb9ec2e5f1c5 (old id 131382)
date added to LUP
2007-07-23 11:31:13
date last changed
2017-07-30 03:36:06
@article{308383e9-08cb-449c-96a4-eb9ec2e5f1c5,
  abstract     = {Humans are colour-blind at night, and it has been assumed that this is true of all animals. But colour vision is as useful for discriminating objects1 at night as it is during the day. Here we show, through behavioural experiments, that the nocturnal hawkmoth Deilephila elpenor uses colour vision to discriminate coloured stimuli at intensities corresponding to dim starlight (0.0001 cd m-2). It can do this even if the illumination colour changes, thereby showing colour constancya property of true colour vision systems2. In identical conditions humans are completely colour-blind. Our calculations show that the possession of three photoreceptor classes reduces the absolute sensitivity of the eye, which indicates that colour vision has a high ecological relevance in nocturnal moths. In addition, the photoreceptors of a single ommatidium absorb too few photons for reliable discrimination, indicating that spatial and/or temporal summation must occur for colour vision to be possible. Taken together, our results show that colour vision occurs at nocturnal intensities in a biologically relevant context},
  author       = {Kelber, Almut and Balkenius, Anna and Warrant, Eric},
  issn         = {0028-0836},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {6910},
  pages        = {922--925},
  publisher    = {Nature Publishing Group},
  series       = {Nature},
  title        = {Scotopic colour vision in nocturnal hawkmoths},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature01065},
  volume       = {419},
  year         = {2002},
}