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Spatial resolution and sensitivity of the eyes of the stingless bee, Tetragonula iridipennis

DOI: 10.1007/s00359-021-01521-2 DOI Help

Authors: M. Asmi Jezeera (Indian Institute of Science Education and Research) , Pierre Tichit (Lund University; Stockholm University) , G. S. Balamurali (Indian Institute of Science Education and Research) , Emily Baird (Stockholm University) , Almut Kelber (Lund University) , Hema Somanathan (Indian Institute of Science Education and Research)
Co-authored by industrial partner: No

Type: Journal Paper
Journal: Journal Of Comparative Physiology A , VOL 48

State: Published (Approved)
Published: November 2021
Diamond Proposal Number(s): 16052

Abstract: Stingless bees are important pollinators in the tropics. The tremendous variation in body size makes them an excellent group to study how miniaturization affects vision and visual behaviours. Using direct measurements and micro-CT, we reconstructed the eye structure, estimated anatomical spatial resolution and optical sensitivity of the stingless bee Tetragonula iridipennis. T. iridipennis is similar in size to the Australian stingless bee Tetragonula carbonaria and is smaller than honeybees. It has correspondingly small eyes (area = 0.56 mm2), few ommatidia (2451 ± 127), large inter-facet (3.0 ± 0.6°) and acceptance angles (2.8°). Theoretical estimates suggest that T. iridipennis has poorer spatial resolution (0.17 cycles degree−1) than honeybees, bumblebees, and T. carbonaria. Its optical sensitivity (0.08 µm2 sr), though higher than expected, is within the range of diurnal bees. This may provide them with greater contrast sensitivity, which is likely more relevant than the absolute sensitivity in this diurnal bee. Behaviourally determined detection thresholds for single targets using y-maze experiments were 11.5° for targets that provide chromatic contrast alone and 9.1° for targets providing chromatic and achromatic contrast. Further studies into microhabitat preferences and behaviour are required to understand how miniaturization influences its visual ecology.

Journal Keywords: Apidae; Micro-CT; Social bees; Tropical bees; Visual ecology

Subject Areas: Biology and Bio-materials, Environment


Instruments: I13-2-Diamond Manchester Imaging

Added On: 09/11/2021 10:14

Discipline Tags:

Earth Sciences & Environment Ecosystems & Biodiversity

Technical Tags:

Imaging Tomography