Role of form vision in habitat selection of the grass shrimp Hippolyte californiensis
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The caridean shrimp Hippolyte californiensis Holmes locates its host plant, the eel grass Zostera marina, visually, discriminating it on the basis of its form. Using models of the plant, the form-specific sign stimuli optimally releasing the host-selection response were investigated. Shrimps preferentially approached dark forms presented against a lighter background. The more a form contrasted with the background, the higher was its stimulatory value. Shrimps showed differential responses to solid forms of varying shape, preferring a stripe-like rectangle in a vertical orientation. Rectangular forms 50° (visual angle) or more in height and between 12° and 20° in width were maximally stimulating. Patterns of several vertical stripes had a greater releasing value for the approach response than a solid rectangle form of optimal dimensions. The greater the spatial frequency of a striped pattern, the reater was its attractiveness. Shrimps discriminated patterns of stripes whose elements were as small as 2° wide, giving an estimate of their visual acuity. Along with the relative contrast, the most important stimulus parameters of striped patterns are the continuous, straight form of the edges and their vertical orientation. It is postulated that the scototactic response of H. californiensis to relatively large, dark, solid forms is involved in the distant detection of clumps of eel grass. At closer range, the eel grass plants are then discriminated on the basis of the stripelike pattern of the leaves.
KeywordsHabitat Selection Solid Form Vertical Orientation Vertical Stripe Distant Detection
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