Comparative visual ecophysiology of mid-Atlantic temperate reef fishes

  • Horodysky A
  • Brill R
  • Crawford K
  • et al.
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Abstract

The absolute light sensitivities, temporal properties, and spectral sensitivities of the visual systems of three mid-Atlantic temperate reef fishes (Atlantic spadefish [Ephippidae: Chaetodipterus faber], tautog [Labridae: Tautoga onitis], and black sea bass [Serranidae: Centropristis striata]) were studied via electroretinography (ERG). Pelagic Atlantic spadefish exhibited higher temporal resolution but a narrower dynamic range than the two more demersal foragers. The higher luminous sensitivities of tautog and black sea bass were similar to other benthic and demersal coastal mid-Atlantic fishes. Flicker fusion frequency experiments revealed significant interspecific differences at maximum intensities that correlated with lifestyle and habitat. Spectral responses of the three species spanned 400-610 nm, with high likelihood of cone dichromacy providing the basis for color and contrast discrimination. Significant day-night differences in spectral responses were evident in spadefish and black sea bass but not tautog, a labrid with characteristic structure-associated nocturnal torpor. Atlantic spadefish responded to a wider range of wavelengths than did deeper-dwelling tautog or black sea bass. Collectively, these results suggest that temperate reef-associated fishes are well-adapted to their gradient of brighter to dimmer photoclimates, representative of their unique ecologies and life histories. Continuing anthropogenic degradation of water quality in coastal environments, at a pace faster than the evolution of visual systems, may however impede visual foraging and reproductive signaling in temperate reef fishes.

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Horodysky, A. Z., Brill, R. W., Crawford, K. C., Seagroves, E. S., & Johnson, A. K. (2013). Comparative visual ecophysiology of mid-Atlantic temperate reef fishes. Biology Open, 2(12), 1371–1381. https://doi.org/10.1242/bio.20136825

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