Advertisement

Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 189, Issue 2, pp 135–142 | Cite as

The roles of receptor noise and cone oil droplets in the photopic spectral sensitivity of the budgerigar, Melopsittacus undulatus

  • T. H. GoldsmithEmail author
  • B. K. Butler
Original Paper
  • 208 Downloads

Abstract

Individual budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus) were taught to detect narrow bands of wavelengths under ambient illumination of known spectral composition. Because the cone pigments of this species of bird have been identified and data on carotenoid absorbance present in the cone oil droplets are available, predictions of the Vorobyev-Osorio equations can be calculated with reasonable confidence. Based on more than 27,600 individual choices made by several birds at 10 wavelengths, the photopic sensitivity (i.e., color thresholds) of these birds is found to be consistent with the hypothesis that threshold discrimination of colored targets is limited by receptor noise and that high sensitivity to near-ultraviolet wavelengths is in harmony with the relatively small number of ultraviolet cones present in the retina. The pronounced fine structure of the sensitivity spectrum is caused by the absorption of cone oil droplets. Under natural sunlight, containing more energy in the near-ultraviolet than is present in artificial indoor lighting, the birds' peak of sensitivity in the ultraviolet should be much less prominent than it is in laboratory experiments.

Keywords

Bird vision Budgerigars Color discrimination Cone oil droplets Receptor noise 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by NSF Grant No. 9816069. We are grateful to Daniel Osorio for commenting on a draft of the manuscript. These experiments comply with current laws in the United States, and the protocols for care and feeding of the birds were approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of Yale University.

References

  1. Bowmaker JK, Heath LA, Wilkie SE, Hunt DM (1997) Visual pigments and oil droplets from six classes of photoreceptor in the retinas of birds. Vision Res 37:2183–2194PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Brandt R, Vorobyev M (1997) Metric analysis of threshold spectral sensitivity in the honeybee. Vision Res 37:425–437CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Brown SD, Dooling RJ (1992) Perception of conspecific faces by budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus). I. Natural faces. J Comp Psychol 106:203–216CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Brown SD, Dooling RJ (1993) Perception of conspecific faces by budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus). II. Synthetic models. J Comp Psychol 107:48–60CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Burkhardt D, Maier E (1989) The spectral sensitivity of a passerine bird is highest in the UV. Naturwissenschaften 76:82–83Google Scholar
  6. Campenhausen M von, Kirschfeld K (1998) Spectral sensitivity of the accessory optic system of the pigeon. J Comp Physiol A 183:1–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chen D-M, Goldsmith TH (1986) Four spectral classes of cone in the retinas of birds. J Comp Physiol A 159:473–479PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Goldsmith TH (1994) Ultraviolet receptors and color vision: evolutionary implications and a dissonance of paradigms. Vision Res 34:1479–1487PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Goldsmith TH, Collins JS, Licht S (1984) The cone oil droplets of avian retinas. Vision Res 24:1661–1671PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Kavanau JL (1987) Lovebirds, cockatiels, budgerigars: behavior and evolution. Science Software Systems, Los Angeles, CAGoogle Scholar
  11. Kelber A, Vorobyev M, Osorio D (2003) Animal colour vision— behavioural tests and physiological concepts . Biological Reviews (of the Cambridge Philosophical Society) (in press)Google Scholar
  12. Kreithen ML, Eisner T (1978) Ultraviolet light detection by the homing pigeon. Nature 272:347–348PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Lamb TD (1995) Photoreceptor spectral sensitivities: common shape in the long-wavelength region. Vision Res 35:3083–3091CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Maier EJ (1992) Spectral sensitivities including the UV of the passeriform bird Leiothrix lutea. J Comp Physiol A 170:709–714Google Scholar
  15. Maier EJ (1994) Ultraviolet vision in a passeriform bird from receptor spectral sensitivity to overall spectral sensitivity in Leiothrix lutea. Vision Res 34:1415–1418PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Maier EJ, Bowmaker JK (1993) Colour vision in the passeriform bird, Leiothrix lutea: Correlation of visual pigments, absorbance, and oil droplet transmission with spectral sensitivity. J Comp Physiol A 172:295–301Google Scholar
  17. Morton ES (1977) On the occurrence and significance of motivational-structural rules in some bird and mammal sounds. Am Nat 111:855–869CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Morton ES (1982) Grading, discreteness, redundancy, and motivational-structural rules. In: Kroodsma D, Miller EH (eds) Acoustic communication in birds. Academic Press, New York, 183–212Google Scholar
  19. Osorio D, Miklosi A, Gonda Z (1999) Visual ecology and perception of coloration patterns by domestic chicks. Evol Ecol 13:673–689CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Palacios AG, Goldsmith TH, Bernard GD (1996) Sensitivity of cones from a cyprinid fish (Danio aequipinnatus) to ultraviolet and visible light. Vis Neurosci 13:411–421Google Scholar
  21. Pearn SM, Bennett ATD, Cuthill IC (2001) Ultraviolet vision, fluorescence and mate choice in a parrot, the budgerigar Melopsittacus undulatus. Proc R Soc Lond Ser B 268:2273–2279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Pepperburg IM (1999) The Alex studies: cognitive and communicative abilities of grey parrots. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  23. Stavenga DA, Smits RP, Hoenders BJ (1993) Simple exponential functions describing the absorbance bands of visual pigment spectra. Vision Res 33:1011–1017PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Sun H, Frost BJ (1997) Motion processing in pigeon tectum: equiluminant chromatic mechanisms. Exp Brain Res 116:434–444PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Vorobyev M, Osorio D (1998) Receptor noise as a determinant of colour thresholds. Proc R Soc Lond Ser B 265:351–358Google Scholar
  26. Vorobyev M, Brandt R, Peitsch D, Laughlin S, Menzel R (2001) Colour thresholds and receptor noise: behaviour and physiology compared. Vision Res 41:639–653PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Wilkie SE, Vissers PMAM, Das D, Degrip WJ, Bowmaker JK, Hunt DM (1998) The molecular basis for UV vision in birds—spectral characteristics, cDNA sequence and retinal localization of the UV-sensitive visual pigment of the budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus). Biochem J 330:541–547PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Wilkie SE, Robinson PR, Cronin TW, Poopalasundaram S, Bowmaker JK, Hunt DM (2000) Spectral tuning of avian violet- and ultraviolet-sensitive visual pigments. Biochemistry 39:7895–7901CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental BiologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

Personalised recommendations