Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 177, Issue 5, pp 559–567 | Cite as

Visual pigments and spectral sensitivity of the diurnal gecko Gonatodes albogularis

  • J. M. Ellingson
  • L. J. Fleishman
  • E. R. Loew
Original Paper


The visual pigments and oil droplets in the retina of the diurnal gecko Gonatodes albogularis were examined microspectrophotometrically, and the spectral sensitivity under various adapting conditions was recorded using electrophysiological responses. Three classes of visual pigments were identified, with λmax at about 542, 475, and 362 nm. Spectral sensitivity functions revealed a broad range of sensitivity, with a peak at approximately 530–540 nm. The cornea and oil droplets were found to be transparent across a range from 350–700 nm, but the lens absorbed short wavelength light below 450 nm. Despite the filtering effect of the lens, a secondary peak in spectral sensitivity to ultraviolet wavelengths was found. These results suggest that G. albogularis does possess the visual mechanisms for discrimination of the color pattern of conspecifics based on either hue or brightness. These findings are discussed in terms of the variation in coloration and social behavior of Gonatodes.

Key words

Gonatodes albogularis Visual pigments Electroretinogram Spectral sensitivity UV-cone 









wavelength of maximum absorbance


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Arden GB, Tansley K (1962) The electroretinogram of a diurnal gecko. J Gen Physiol 45: 1145–1161Google Scholar
  2. Bennett ATD, Cuthill IC, Norris KJ (1994) Sexual selection and the mismeasure of color. Am Nat 144: 848–860Google Scholar
  3. Butcher GS, Rohwer S (1989) The evolution of conspicuous and distinctive coloration for communication in birds. Curr Ornithol 6: 51–107Google Scholar
  4. Cooper WE, Jr., Greenberg N (1992) Reptilian coloration and behavior. In: Gans C, Crews D (eds) Hormones, brain, and behavior. Biology of the Reptilia, vol 18, Physiology E. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 298–422Google Scholar
  5. Crawford MLJ, Andersen RA, Blake R, Jacobs GH, Neumeyer C (1990) Interspecies comparisons in the understanding of human visual perception. In: Spillman L, Werner JS (eds) Visual perception: the neurophysiological foundations. Academic Press, New York, pp 23–52Google Scholar
  6. Crescitelli F (1965) The spectral sensitivity and visual pigment content of the retina of Gekko gekko. In: Ciba Foundation Symposium. Colour vision, physiology and experimental psychology. Churchill, London, pp 301–324Google Scholar
  7. Crescitelli F (1966) The spectral sensitivity of the gecko eye in relation to the state of adaptation. Vision Res 6: 129–142Google Scholar
  8. Crescitelli F, Dartnall HJA, Loew ER (1977) The gecko visual pigments: A microspectrophotometric study. J Physiol (Lond) 268: 559–573Google Scholar
  9. Ellingson JM (1994) Natural and sexual selection on coloration in the diurnal gecko Gonatodes albogularis. PhD dissertation, University of Texas at AustinGoogle Scholar
  10. Endler JA (1990) On the measurement and classification of colour in studies of animal colour patterns. Biol J Linn Soc Lond 41: 315–352Google Scholar
  11. Endler JA (1991) Variation in the appearance of guppy color patterns to guppies and their predators under different visual conditions. Vision Res 31: 587–608Google Scholar
  12. Endler JA (1992) Signals, signal condition, and the direction of evolution. Am Nat 139: s125-s153Google Scholar
  13. Fleishman LJ, Loew ER, Leal M (1993) Utraviolet vision in lizards. Nature 365: 397Google Scholar
  14. Govardovskiî VI, Zueva LV, Lychakov DV (1984) Microspectrophotometric study of visual pigments in five species of geckos. Vision Res 24: 1421–1423Google Scholar
  15. Hailman JP (1977) Optical signals: Animal communication and light. Indiana University Press, BloomingtonGoogle Scholar
  16. Hárosi FI (1985) Ultraviolet-and violet-absorbing vertebrate visual pigments: Dichroic and bleaching properties. In: Fien A, Levine JS (eds) The visual system. Liss, New York, pp 41–55Google Scholar
  17. Hover EL (1985) Differences in aggressive behavior between two throat color morphs in a lizard, Urosaurus ornatus. Copeia 1985: 933–940Google Scholar
  18. Jacobs GH (1992) Ultraviolet vision in vertebrates. Am Zool 32: 544–554Google Scholar
  19. Jacobs GH, Neitz J (1986) Spectral mechanisms and color vision in the tree shrew (Tupaia belangeri). Vision Res 26: 291–298Google Scholar
  20. Loew ER (1994) A third, ultraviolet-sensitive, visual pigment in the Tokay Gecko (Gekko gekko). Vision Res 34: 1427–1431CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. MacNichol EF Jr (1986) A unifying presentation of photopigment spectra. Vision Res 26: 1543–1556Google Scholar
  22. Mansfield RJW (1985) Primate photopigments and cone mechanisms. In: Fein A, Levine JS (eds) The visual system. Liss, New York, pp 89–106Google Scholar
  23. Muntz WRA (1972) Inert absorbing and reflecting pigments. In: Dartnall HJA (ed) Handbook of sensory physiology, Vol VII/1. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 529–565Google Scholar
  24. Press WH, Flannery BP, Teukolsky SA, Vetterling WT (1989) Numerical recipes in Pascal. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  25. Rivero-Blanco C (1979) The neotropical lizard genus Gonatodes Fitzinger (Sauria: Sphaerodactylinae). PhD dissertation, Texas A&M UniversityGoogle Scholar
  26. Ryan MJ, Keddy-Hector A (1992) Directional patterns of female mate choice and the role of sensory biases. Am Nat 139: s4-s35Google Scholar
  27. Stamps JA (1977) Social behavior and spacing patterns in lizards. In: Gans C, Tinkle DW (eds) Biology of the Reptilia, vol. 7, ecology and behavior A. Academic Press, London, pp 265–334Google Scholar
  28. Tansley K (1961) The retina of a diurnal gecko Phelsuma madagascariensis longinsulae. Pflügers Arch 272: 262–269Google Scholar
  29. Thompson CW, Moore MC (1991) Throat colour reliably signals status in male tree lizards, Urosaurus ornatus. Anim Behav 42: 745–753Google Scholar
  30. Underwood G (1951) Reptilian retinas. Nature 167: 183–185Google Scholar
  31. Underwood G (1970) The eye. In: Gann P, Parsons TS (eds) Biology of the reptilia, vol 2: Morphology B. Academic Press, New York, pp 1–97Google Scholar
  32. Zucker N (1989) Dorsal darkening and territoriality in a wild population of the tree lizard, Urosaurus ornatus. J Herpetol 23: 389–398Google Scholar
  33. Zucker N (1994) A dual status-signalling system: a matter of redundancy or differing roles? Anim Behav 47: 15–22Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. M. Ellingson
    • 1
  • L. J. Fleishman
    • 2
  • E. R. Loew
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of TexasAustinUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesUnion CollegeSchenectadyUSA
  3. 3.Section and Department of PhysiologyCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

Personalised recommendations