A physiological analysis of color vision in batoid elasmobranchs

paperPublished in September 2013

A physiological analysis of color vision in batoid elasmobranchs

Christine N. Bedore, Ellis R. Loew, Tamara M. Frank, Robert E. Hueter, D. Michelle McComb, Stephen M. Kajiura


The potential for color vision in elasmobranchs has been studied in detail; however, a high degree of variation exists among the group. Evidence for ultraviolet (UV) vision is lacking, despite the presence of UV vision in every other vertebrate class. An integrative physiological approach was used to investigate color and ultraviolet vision in cownose rays and yellow stingrays, two batoids that inhabit different spectral environments. Both species had peaks in UV, short, medium, and long wavelength spectral regions in dark-, light-, and chromatic-adapted electroretinograms. Although no UV cones were found with microspectrophotometric analysis, both rays had multiple cone visual pigments with λ max at 470 and 551 nm in cownose rays (Rhinoptera bonasus) and 475, 533, and 562 nm in yellow stingrays (Urobatis jamaicensis). The same analysis demonstrated that both species had rod λ max at 500 and 499 nm, respectively. The lens and cornea of cownose rays maximally transmitted wavelengths greater than 350 nm and greater than 376 nm in yellow stingrays. These results support the potential for color vision in these species and future investigations should reveal the extent to which color discrimination is significant in a behavioral context.

Journal of Comparative Physiology A, DOI 10.1007/s00359-013-0855-1




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