Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 200, Issue 11, pp 949–957 | Cite as

Differences in lens optical plasticity in two gadoid fishes meeting in the Arctic

  • Mikael Jönsson
  • Øystein Varpe
  • Tomasz Kozłowski
  • Jørgen Berge
  • Ronald H. H. Kröger
Original Paper


Arctic and boreal/temperate species are likely to be evolutionary adapted to different light regimes. Currently, the boreal/temperate Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) is coexisting with the native polar cod (Boreogadus saida) in the Arctic waters around Svalbard, Norway. Here, we studied light/dark adaptative optical plasticity of their eye lenses by exposing fish to bright light during the polar night. Schlieren photography, high-definition laser scanning and ray tracing were used to determine the optical properties of excised crystalline lenses. Both species have multifocal lenses, an optical adaptation for improved color vision. In polar cod, the optical properties of the lens were independent of light exposure. In the more southern Atlantic cod, the optical properties of the lens changed within hours upon exposure to light, even after months of darkness. Such fast optical adjustment has previously only been shown in a tropical cichlid. During the polar night the Atlantic cod lens seems to be unregulated and dysfunctional since it had an unsuitable focal length and severe spherical aberration. We present a system, to our knowledge unique, for studying visual plasticity on different timescales in relation to evolutionary history and present the first study on the polar cod visual system.


Experiment Fish Multifocal lens Visual plasticity Global warming 



Back center distance


Beam entrance position


Longitudinal spherical aberration


Lens radius


Refractive index gradient


Retinomotor movement



We thank Anne Christine Utne-Palm for connecting Øystein Varpe with the Vision Group at Lund University. The work was supported by Grants to Øystein Varpe from the Fram Centre in Tromsø and to Ronald Kröger from Knut and Alice Wallenberg foundation, and is part of the Research Council of Norway funded projects CircA (project number 214271/F20) and Marine Night (project number 226417). Experiments followed local legislation and were approved by the regional ethics committee for animal research, Malmö/Lund Ethical Committee on Animal Experiments (Dnr: M141-13).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mikael Jönsson
    • 1
  • Øystein Varpe
    • 2
    • 3
  • Tomasz Kozłowski
    • 1
  • Jørgen Berge
    • 3
    • 4
  • Ronald H. H. Kröger
    • 1
  1. 1.Lund Vision Group, Functional Zoology, Department of BiologyLund UniversityLundSweden
  2. 2.Akvaplan-nivaTromsøNorway
  3. 3.The University Centre in SvalbardLongyearbyenNorway
  4. 4.Faculty of Biosciences, Fisheries and EconomyUniversity of TromsøTromsøNorway

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