Behavioural evidence for colour vision in an elasmobranch

Van-Eyk, Sarah M., Siebeck, Ulrike E., Champ, Connor M., Marshall, Justin and Hart, Nathan S. (2011) Behavioural evidence for colour vision in an elasmobranch. Journal of Experimental Biology, 214 24: 4186-4192. doi:10.1242/jeb.061853

Author Van-Eyk, Sarah M.
Siebeck, Ulrike E.
Champ, Connor M.
Marshall, Justin
Hart, Nathan S.
Title Behavioural evidence for colour vision in an elasmobranch
Journal name Journal of Experimental Biology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0022-0949
Publication date 2011-12
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1242/jeb.061853
Volume 214
Issue 24
Start page 4186
End page 4192
Total pages 7
Place of publication Cambridge, U.K .
Publisher The Company of Biologists
Collection year 2012
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Little is known about the sensory abilities of elasmobranchs (sharks, skates and rays) compared with other fishes. Despite their role as apex predators in most marine and some freshwater habitats, interspecific variations in visual function are especially poorly studied. Of particular interest is whether they possess colour vision and, if so, the role(s) that colour may play in elasmobranch visual ecology. The recent discovery of three spectrally distinct cone types in three different species of ray suggests that at least some elasmobranchs have the potential for functional trichromatic colour vision. However, in order to confirm that these species possess colour vision, behavioural experiments are required. Here, we present evidence for the presence of colour vision in the giant shovelnose ray (Glaucostegus typus) through the use of a series of behavioural experiments based on visual discrimination tasks. Our results show that these rays are capable of discriminating coloured reward stimuli from other coloured (unrewarded) distracter stimuli of variable brightness with a success rate significantly different from chance. This study represents the first behavioural evidence for colour vision in any elasmobranch, using a paradigm that incorporates extensive controls for relative stimulus brightness. The ability to discriminate colours may have a strong selective advantage for animals living in an aquatic ecosystem, such as rays, as a means of filtering out surface-wave-induced flicker.
Keyword Colour vision
Colour discrimination
Giant shovelnose ray
Glaucostegus typus
Coral-reef fish
Visual pigments
Spectral sensitivity
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Queensland Brain Institute Publications
Official 2012 Collection
School of Biomedical Sciences Publications
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