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Vision on the high seas : Spatial resolution and optical sensitivity in two procellariiform seabirds with different foraging strategies

Mitkus, Mindaugas LU ; Nevitt, Gabrielle A.; Danielsen, Johannis LU and Kelber, Almut LU (2016) In Journal of Experimental Biology 219(21). p.3329-3338
Abstract

Procellariiform or 'tubenosed' seabirds are challenged to find prey and orient over seemingly featureless oceans. Previous studies have found that life-history strategy (burrow versus surface nesting) was correlated to foraging strategy. Burrow nesters tended to track prey using dimethyl sulphide (DMS), a compound associated with phytoplankton, whereas surface-nesting species did not. Burrow nesters also tended to be smaller and more cryptic, whereas surface nesters were larger with contrasting plumage coloration. Together these results suggested that differences in life-history strategy might also be linked to differences in visual adaptations. Here, we used Leach's storm petrel, a DMSresponder, and northern fulmar, a non-responder, as... (More)

Procellariiform or 'tubenosed' seabirds are challenged to find prey and orient over seemingly featureless oceans. Previous studies have found that life-history strategy (burrow versus surface nesting) was correlated to foraging strategy. Burrow nesters tended to track prey using dimethyl sulphide (DMS), a compound associated with phytoplankton, whereas surface-nesting species did not. Burrow nesters also tended to be smaller and more cryptic, whereas surface nesters were larger with contrasting plumage coloration. Together these results suggested that differences in life-history strategy might also be linked to differences in visual adaptations. Here, we used Leach's storm petrel, a DMSresponder, and northern fulmar, a non-responder, as model species to test this hypothesis on their sensory ecology. From the retinal ganglion cell density and photoreceptor dimensions,we determined that Leach's storm petrels have six times lower spatial resolution than the northern fulmars. However, the optical sensitivity of rod photoreceptors is similar between species. These results suggest that under similar atmospheric conditions, northern fulmars have six times the detection range for similarly sized objects. Both species have extended visual streaks with a central area of highest spatial resolution, but only the northern fulmar has a central fovea. The prediction that burrow-nesting DMSresponding procellariiforms should differ from non-responding species nesting in the open holds true for spatial resolution, but not for optical sensitivity. This result may reflect the fact that both species rely on olfaction for their nocturnal foraging activity, but northern fulmars might use vision more during daytime.

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Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Bird visual ecology, Leach's storm petrel, Northern fulmar, Optical sensitivity, Retinal ganglion cell topography, Visual spatial resolution
in
Journal of Experimental Biology
volume
219
issue
21
pages
10 pages
publisher
The Company of Biologists Ltd
external identifiers
  • scopus:84994812789
  • wos:000386835800011
ISSN
0022-0949
DOI
10.1242/jeb.140905
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
92608753-186f-48bb-bb17-7799cf71bd5e
date added to LUP
2016-12-05 12:29:39
date last changed
2017-01-01 08:42:00
@article{92608753-186f-48bb-bb17-7799cf71bd5e,
  abstract     = {<p>Procellariiform or 'tubenosed' seabirds are challenged to find prey and orient over seemingly featureless oceans. Previous studies have found that life-history strategy (burrow versus surface nesting) was correlated to foraging strategy. Burrow nesters tended to track prey using dimethyl sulphide (DMS), a compound associated with phytoplankton, whereas surface-nesting species did not. Burrow nesters also tended to be smaller and more cryptic, whereas surface nesters were larger with contrasting plumage coloration. Together these results suggested that differences in life-history strategy might also be linked to differences in visual adaptations. Here, we used Leach's storm petrel, a DMSresponder, and northern fulmar, a non-responder, as model species to test this hypothesis on their sensory ecology. From the retinal ganglion cell density and photoreceptor dimensions,we determined that Leach's storm petrels have six times lower spatial resolution than the northern fulmars. However, the optical sensitivity of rod photoreceptors is similar between species. These results suggest that under similar atmospheric conditions, northern fulmars have six times the detection range for similarly sized objects. Both species have extended visual streaks with a central area of highest spatial resolution, but only the northern fulmar has a central fovea. The prediction that burrow-nesting DMSresponding procellariiforms should differ from non-responding species nesting in the open holds true for spatial resolution, but not for optical sensitivity. This result may reflect the fact that both species rely on olfaction for their nocturnal foraging activity, but northern fulmars might use vision more during daytime.</p>},
  author       = {Mitkus, Mindaugas and Nevitt, Gabrielle A. and Danielsen, Johannis and Kelber, Almut},
  issn         = {0022-0949},
  keyword      = {Bird visual ecology,Leach's storm petrel,Northern fulmar,Optical sensitivity,Retinal ganglion cell topography,Visual spatial resolution},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {11},
  number       = {21},
  pages        = {3329--3338},
  publisher    = {The Company of Biologists Ltd},
  series       = {Journal of Experimental Biology},
  title        = {Vision on the high seas : Spatial resolution and optical sensitivity in two procellariiform seabirds with different foraging strategies},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/jeb.140905},
  volume       = {219},
  year         = {2016},
}