Spectral sensitivity in ray-finned fishes: diversity, ecology and shared descent.
A major goal of sensory ecology is to identify factors that underlie sensory-trait variation. One open question centers on why fishes show the greatest diversity among vertebrates in their capacity to detect color (i.e. spectral sensitivity). Over the past several decades, λmax
values (photoreceptor class peak sensitivity) and chromacy (photoreceptor class number) have been cataloged for hundreds of fish species, yet the ecological basis of this diversity and the functional significance of high chromacy levels (e.g. tetra- and pentachromacy) remain unclear. In this study, we examined phylogenetic, physiological and ecological patterns of spectral sensitivity of ray-finned fishes (Actinoptergyii) via a meta-analysis of data compiled from 213 species. Across the fishes sampled, our results indicate that trichromacy is most common, ultraviolet λmax
values are not found in monochromatic or dichromatic species, and increasing chromacy, including from tetra- to pentachromacy, significantly increases spectral sensitivity range. In an ecological analysis, multivariate phylogenetic latent liability modeling was performed to analyze correlations between chromacy and five hypothesized predictors (depth, habitat, diet, body coloration, body size). In a model not accounting for phylogenetic relatedness, each predictor with the exception of habitat significantly correlated with chromacy: a positive relationship in body color and negative relationships with body size, diet and depth. However, after phylogenetic correction, the only remaining correlated predictor was depth. The findings of this study indicate that phyletic heritage and depth are important factors in fish spectral sensitivity and impart caution about excluding phylogenetic comparative methods in studies of sensory trait variation.
Schweikert, LE; Fitak, RR; Caves, EM; Sutton, TT; Johnsen, S
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