Polarization Sensitivity in Amphibians
Polarization sensitivity (PS) in amphibians has been examined in some species of anurans and urodelans. Gymnophiones, on account of their tiny eyes and fossorial or aquatic lifestyles, are considered unlikely candidates for PS. Some anura and urodela have been shown to detect the direction of polarization with photoreceptors of the pineal organ rather than their lateral eyes. An ordered array of light-absorbing visual molecules is paramount for PS, but an ordered array of radical pairs generated through photo-induced electron transfer is also essential for magnetoreception, which suggests that there is some interaction between the two senses. An anatomical requirement for PS is a constant and characteristic orientation of the photoreceptor’s disc membranes. A closer look at ultrastructural modifications in different retinal regions of species deemed polarization sensitive seems warranted. Polarization sensitivity may help to relocate breeding sites in philotropic species and to improve visibility of prey in predatory larval and adult urodeles plus those few anurans that hunt under water. Furthermore, it could possibly be of assistance in separating overlapping shadows and play a role during courtship in species with distinct sexually dimorphic colouration.
KeywordsPineal Organ Polarization Sensitivity Tiger Salamander Frontal Organ Selective Reflection
I wish to thank Prof. Hong Yang Yan (Taiwan National Academy of Science) for valuable hints on relevant literature and President James Jin Kyung Kim of Pyongyang University of Science and Technology for his support and for allowing me time to complete this chapter during my sabbatical semester in North Korea (DPRK). I am grateful to Dr. Hans-Bert Schikora and Mr Dieter Florian for making available the photographs in Figs. 10.1 and 10.2 and furthermore to Prof. G. Horváth for inviting me to contribute this chapter to this book.
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