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Development of the Visual System in a Burrow-Nesting Seabird : Leach's Storm Petrel

Mitkus, Mindaugas LU ; Nevitt, Gabrielle A. and Kelber, Almut LU (2017) In Brain, Behavior and Evolution
Abstract

Little is known about the development of vision in wild birds. It is unknown, for example, whether the ability to see can be predicted by the level of prenatal growth or whether the eyes are open at hatching in a particular species. In this study, we investigated the growth of eyes, the formation of retinal ganglion cell topography, and the appearance of simple, visually guided behaviours in chicks of a small procellariiform seabird, Leach's storm petrel (Oceanodroma leucorhoa). This semi-precocial species, which has a well-developed sense of smell, nests in underground burrows where adults provision chicks for 6-8 weeks in the dark before fledging. Retinal ganglion cell topographic maps revealed that fine-tuning of cell distribution... (More)

Little is known about the development of vision in wild birds. It is unknown, for example, whether the ability to see can be predicted by the level of prenatal growth or whether the eyes are open at hatching in a particular species. In this study, we investigated the growth of eyes, the formation of retinal ganglion cell topography, and the appearance of simple, visually guided behaviours in chicks of a small procellariiform seabird, Leach's storm petrel (Oceanodroma leucorhoa). This semi-precocial species, which has a well-developed sense of smell, nests in underground burrows where adults provision chicks for 6-8 weeks in the dark before fledging. Retinal ganglion cell topographic maps revealed that fine-tuning of cell distribution does not happen early in development, but rather that the ganglion cell layer continues to mature throughout provisioning and probably even after fledging. While the olfactory bulbs reached adult size around 7 weeks after hatching, the eyes and telencephalon continued to grow. Optokinetic head response and artificial burrow finding experiments indicated that chicks in the 2nd week after hatching lack even the most basic visually guided behaviours and are probably blind. Thus, vision in Leach's storm petrel chicks starts to function sometime around the 3rd week after hatching, well after the eyes have opened and the olfactory system is functional.

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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
epub
subject
keywords
Bird vision, Eye growth, Leach’s storm petrel, Olfactory bulbs, Retinal ganglion cells, Visual development
in
Brain, Behavior and Evolution
publisher
Karger
external identifiers
  • scopus:85037369594
ISSN
0006-8977
DOI
10.1159/000484080
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
b1125c0e-0bc1-4beb-8298-4b5120ba8b98
date added to LUP
2017-12-21 10:24:09
date last changed
2018-01-07 12:29:36
@article{b1125c0e-0bc1-4beb-8298-4b5120ba8b98,
  abstract     = {<p>Little is known about the development of vision in wild birds. It is unknown, for example, whether the ability to see can be predicted by the level of prenatal growth or whether the eyes are open at hatching in a particular species. In this study, we investigated the growth of eyes, the formation of retinal ganglion cell topography, and the appearance of simple, visually guided behaviours in chicks of a small procellariiform seabird, Leach's storm petrel (Oceanodroma leucorhoa). This semi-precocial species, which has a well-developed sense of smell, nests in underground burrows where adults provision chicks for 6-8 weeks in the dark before fledging. Retinal ganglion cell topographic maps revealed that fine-tuning of cell distribution does not happen early in development, but rather that the ganglion cell layer continues to mature throughout provisioning and probably even after fledging. While the olfactory bulbs reached adult size around 7 weeks after hatching, the eyes and telencephalon continued to grow. Optokinetic head response and artificial burrow finding experiments indicated that chicks in the 2nd week after hatching lack even the most basic visually guided behaviours and are probably blind. Thus, vision in Leach's storm petrel chicks starts to function sometime around the 3rd week after hatching, well after the eyes have opened and the olfactory system is functional.</p>},
  author       = {Mitkus, Mindaugas and Nevitt, Gabrielle A. and Kelber, Almut},
  issn         = {0006-8977},
  keyword      = {Bird vision,Eye growth,Leach’s storm petrel,Olfactory bulbs,Retinal ganglion cells,Visual development},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {12},
  publisher    = {Karger},
  series       = {Brain, Behavior and Evolution},
  title        = {Development of the Visual System in a Burrow-Nesting Seabird : Leach's Storm Petrel},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000484080},
  year         = {2017},
}