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Visual detection thresholds in the Asian honeybee, Apis cerana

Abstract

To understand how insect pollinators find flowers against complex backgrounds in diverse natural habitats, it is required to accurately estimate the thresholds for target detection. Detection thresholds for single targets vary between bee species and have been estimated in the Western honeybee, a species of bumblebee and in a stingless bee species. We estimated the angular range of detection for coloured targets in the Asian honeybee Apis cerana. Using a Y-maze experimental set up, we show that targets that provided both chromatic and green receptor contrast were detected at a minimum visual angle of 7.7°, while targets with only chromatic contrast were detected at a minimum angle of 13.2°. Our results thus provide a robust foundation for future studies on the visual ecology of bees in a comparative interspecific framework.

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Acknowledgements

BGS and HS conceptualised the study, wrote and revised the manuscript. AM and AMVK conducted experiments and collected the data under the supervision of BGS and HS. BGS conducted the pilot experiments, and analysed the data. HS acknowledges funding from Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Thiruvananthapuram (IISER TVM). AM was supported by an internship from Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Thiruvananthapuram (IISER-TVM). We thank Asmi Jezeera and Sajesh Vijayan for critical discussions and suggestions on a previous version of the manuscript. We also thank the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.

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Correspondence to G. S. Balamurali.

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Meena, A., Kumar, A.M.V., Balamurali, G.S. et al. Visual detection thresholds in the Asian honeybee, Apis cerana. J Comp Physiol A 207, 553–560 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00359-021-01496-0

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Keywords

  • Honeybee
  • Apis cerana
  • Colour vision
  • Behaviour
  • Visual acuity