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Effect of light intensity on flight control and temporal properties of photoreceptors in bumblebees.

Reber, Therese LU ; Vähäkainu, Antti; Baird, Emily LU ; Weckström, Matti; Warrant, Eric LU and Dacke, Marie LU (2015) In Journal of Experimental Biology 218(9). p.1339-1346
Abstract
To control flight, insects rely on the pattern of visual motion generated on the retina as they move through the environment. When light levels fall, vision becomes less reliable and flight control thus becomes more challenging. Here, we investigated the effect of light intensity on flight control by filming the trajectories of free-flying bumblebees (Bombus terrestris, Linnaeus, 1758) in an experimental tunnel at different light levels. As light levels fell, flight speed decreased and the flight trajectories became more tortuous but the bees were still remarkably good at centring their flight about the tunnel's midline. To investigate if this robust flight performance can be explained by visual adaptations in the bumblebee retina, we also... (More)
To control flight, insects rely on the pattern of visual motion generated on the retina as they move through the environment. When light levels fall, vision becomes less reliable and flight control thus becomes more challenging. Here, we investigated the effect of light intensity on flight control by filming the trajectories of free-flying bumblebees (Bombus terrestris, Linnaeus, 1758) in an experimental tunnel at different light levels. As light levels fell, flight speed decreased and the flight trajectories became more tortuous but the bees were still remarkably good at centring their flight about the tunnel's midline. To investigate if this robust flight performance can be explained by visual adaptations in the bumblebee retina, we also examined the response speed of the green sensitive photoreceptors at the same light intensities. We found that the response speed of the photoreceptors significantly decreased as light levels fell. This indicates that bumblebees have both behavioural (reduction in flight speed) and retinal (reduction in response speed of the photoreceptors) adaptations to allow them to fly in dim light. However, the more tortuous flight paths recorded in dim light suggest that these adaptations do not support flight with the same precision during the twilight hours of the day. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Journal of Experimental Biology
volume
218
issue
9
pages
1339 - 1346
publisher
The Company of Biologists Ltd
external identifiers
  • pmid:25750416
  • wos:000354115800015
  • scopus:84931289484
ISSN
1477-9145
DOI
10.1242/jeb.113886
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
78c026ed-0e45-41e8-b309-35fdee6d3844 (old id 5265032)
date added to LUP
2015-04-14 12:55:25
date last changed
2017-04-23 03:14:27
@article{78c026ed-0e45-41e8-b309-35fdee6d3844,
  abstract     = {To control flight, insects rely on the pattern of visual motion generated on the retina as they move through the environment. When light levels fall, vision becomes less reliable and flight control thus becomes more challenging. Here, we investigated the effect of light intensity on flight control by filming the trajectories of free-flying bumblebees (Bombus terrestris, Linnaeus, 1758) in an experimental tunnel at different light levels. As light levels fell, flight speed decreased and the flight trajectories became more tortuous but the bees were still remarkably good at centring their flight about the tunnel's midline. To investigate if this robust flight performance can be explained by visual adaptations in the bumblebee retina, we also examined the response speed of the green sensitive photoreceptors at the same light intensities. We found that the response speed of the photoreceptors significantly decreased as light levels fell. This indicates that bumblebees have both behavioural (reduction in flight speed) and retinal (reduction in response speed of the photoreceptors) adaptations to allow them to fly in dim light. However, the more tortuous flight paths recorded in dim light suggest that these adaptations do not support flight with the same precision during the twilight hours of the day.},
  author       = {Reber, Therese and Vähäkainu, Antti and Baird, Emily and Weckström, Matti and Warrant, Eric and Dacke, Marie},
  issn         = {1477-9145},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {9},
  pages        = {1339--1346},
  publisher    = {The Company of Biologists Ltd},
  series       = {Journal of Experimental Biology},
  title        = {Effect of light intensity on flight control and temporal properties of photoreceptors in bumblebees.},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/jeb.113886},
  volume       = {218},
  year         = {2015},
}