Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 165, Issue 2, pp 155–164 | Cite as

Spectral sensitivity, absolute threshold, and visual field of two tick species,Hyalomma dromedarii andAmblyomma variegatum

  • Martin Kaltenrieder
  • Thomas Labhart
  • Ernst Hess


  1. 1.

    The spectral sensitivity in the wavelength range of 340–750 nm was determined by both a behavioral approach based on spontaneous positive phototaxis and the electroretinogram (ERG).

  2. 2.

    Concerning phototaxis the camel tick,Hyalomma dromedarii, showed two sensitivity maxima, one in the UV range (ca. 380 nm) and another in the blue-green range (ca. 500 nm). At higher intensities the relative sensitivity was more pronounced in the UV and at lower intensities more pronounced in the blue-green (reverse Purkinje shift). In the tropical bont tick,Amblyomma variegatum, there was a single sensitivity maximum in the blue range (ca. 480 nm).

  3. 3.

    In the ERG there was a maximum in the blue range (ca. 470 nm) in both species and a weak secondary maximum in the UV inHyalomma.

  4. 4.

    The absolute sensitivity was very high. The threshold irradiance of phototaxis was as low as 5.2×106 photons·s−1·cm−2 inHyalomma and 5.2×108 photons·s−1·cm−2 inAmblyomma.

  5. 5.

    When the eyes ofHyalomma were covered, the threshold irradiance was still very low, namely 5.2×108 photons·s−1·cm−2, indicating high absolute sensitivity of the extraretinal photoreceptors.

  6. 6.

    The visual field of the eyes was determined by ERG measurements. In both species the optical axis of each eye, i.e., the center of the visual field, was directed somewhat to the side and above the horizon. InHyalomma this direction was 35° to the long axis of the animal and 30° above the horizon for natural body posture during walking. InAmblyomma the corresponding angles were 39° and 33°, respectively. The size of the field (at 50% sensitivity) inHyalomma was relatively small, namely 14° in the horizontal and 25° in the vertical direction, compared with that ofAmblyomma with 43° and 49°, respectively.

  7. 7.

    This is the first demonstration in ticks of spectral and absolute sensitivity by the behavioral approach and of the visual field by ERG. The results suggest that tick eyes possess features of both spider eyes and insect ocelli.



Visual Field Spectral Sensitivity Tick Species Angular Sensitivity Spectral Sensitivity Function 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Kaltenrieder
    • 1
  • Thomas Labhart
    • 2
  • Ernst Hess
    • 3
  1. 1.Institut de Zoologie de l'UniversitéNeuchâtelSwitzerland
  2. 2.Zoologisches Institut der Universität ZürichZürichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Agricultural Division, Animal HealthCiba-Geigy Ltd.BaselSwitzerland

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