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The Dual Function of Orchid Bee Ocelli as Revealed by X-Ray Microtomography

Taylor, Gavin LU ; Ribi, Willi; Bech, Martin LU ; Bodey, Andrew; Rau, Christoph; Steuwer, Axel LU ; Warrant, Eric LU and Baird, Emily LU (2016) In Current Biology p.1319-1324
Abstract
Visually guided flight control in the rainforest is arguably
one of the most complex insect behaviors: illumination
varies dramatically depending on location
[1], and the densely cluttered environment blocks
out most of the sky [2]. What visual information do
insects sample for flight control in this habitat? To
begin answering this question, we determined the visual
fields of the ocelli—thought to play a role in attitude
stabilization of some flying insects [3–5]—of
an orchid bee, Euglossa imperialis. High-resolution
3D models of the ocellar system from X-ray microtomography
were used for optical ray tracing simulations.
Surprisingly, these showed that each ocellus
possesses two distinct... (More)
Visually guided flight control in the rainforest is arguably
one of the most complex insect behaviors: illumination
varies dramatically depending on location
[1], and the densely cluttered environment blocks
out most of the sky [2]. What visual information do
insects sample for flight control in this habitat? To
begin answering this question, we determined the visual
fields of the ocelli—thought to play a role in attitude
stabilization of some flying insects [3–5]—of
an orchid bee, Euglossa imperialis. High-resolution
3D models of the ocellar system from X-ray microtomography
were used for optical ray tracing simulations.
Surprisingly, these showed that each ocellus
possesses two distinct visual fields—a focused
monocular visual field suitable for detecting features
elevated above the horizon and therefore assisting
with flight stabilization [3–5] and, unlike other ocelli
investigated to date [4, 6, 7], a large trinocular
fronto-dorsal visual field shared by all ocelli. Histological
analyses show that photoreceptors have
similar orientations within each ocellus and are likely
to be sensitive to polarized light, as in some other hymenopterans
[7, 8]. We also found that the average
receptor orientation is offset between the ocelli,
each having different axes of polarization sensitivity
relative to the head. Unlike the eyes of any other
insect described to date, this ocellar system meets
the requirements of a true polarization analyzer
[9, 10]. The ocelli of E. imperialis could provide
sensitive compass information for navigation in the
rainforest and, additionally, provide cues for visual
discrimination or flight control. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Current Biology
issue
26
pages
6 pages
publisher
Elsevier
external identifiers
  • scopus:84963936011
  • wos:000376466000028
ISSN
1879-0445
DOI
10.1016/j.cub.2016.03.038
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
b116c2e7-e9ba-463e-94a1-af309065cc09
date added to LUP
2016-06-29 11:32:47
date last changed
2017-05-28 04:50:45
@article{b116c2e7-e9ba-463e-94a1-af309065cc09,
  abstract     = {Visually guided flight control in the rainforest is arguably<br/>one of the most complex insect behaviors: illumination<br/>varies dramatically depending on location<br/>[1], and the densely cluttered environment blocks<br/>out most of the sky [2]. What visual information do<br/>insects sample for flight control in this habitat? To<br/>begin answering this question, we determined the visual<br/>fields of the ocelli—thought to play a role in attitude<br/>stabilization of some flying insects [3–5]—of<br/>an orchid bee, Euglossa imperialis. High-resolution<br/>3D models of the ocellar system from X-ray microtomography<br/>were used for optical ray tracing simulations.<br/>Surprisingly, these showed that each ocellus<br/>possesses two distinct visual fields—a focused<br/>monocular visual field suitable for detecting features<br/>elevated above the horizon and therefore assisting<br/>with flight stabilization [3–5] and, unlike other ocelli<br/>investigated to date [4, 6, 7], a large trinocular<br/>fronto-dorsal visual field shared by all ocelli. Histological<br/>analyses show that photoreceptors have<br/>similar orientations within each ocellus and are likely<br/>to be sensitive to polarized light, as in some other hymenopterans<br/>[7, 8]. We also found that the average<br/>receptor orientation is offset between the ocelli,<br/>each having different axes of polarization sensitivity<br/>relative to the head. Unlike the eyes of any other<br/>insect described to date, this ocellar system meets<br/>the requirements of a true polarization analyzer<br/>[9, 10]. The ocelli of E. imperialis could provide<br/>sensitive compass information for navigation in the<br/>rainforest and, additionally, provide cues for visual<br/>discrimination or flight control.},
  author       = {Taylor, Gavin and Ribi, Willi and Bech, Martin and Bodey, Andrew and Rau, Christoph and Steuwer, Axel and Warrant, Eric and Baird, Emily},
  issn         = {1879-0445},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {05},
  number       = {26},
  pages        = {1319--1324},
  publisher    = {Elsevier},
  series       = {Current Biology},
  title        = {The Dual Function of Orchid Bee Ocelli as Revealed by X-Ray Microtomography},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2016.03.038},
  year         = {2016},
}