Visual outdoor response of multiple wild bee species: highly selective stimulation of a single photoreceptor type by sunlight-induced fluorescence

Sujaya Rao, Oksana Ostroverkhova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Bees have ultraviolet (UV), blue and green photoreceptor types in their compound eyes with which they locate food sources in landscapes that change continuously in cues emanating from plants and backgrounds against which they are perceived. The complexity of bee vision has been elucidated through studies examining individual species under laboratory conditions. Here, we used a bee-attractive fluorescent blue trap as a model for analyzing visual signals in operation outdoors, and across bee species. We manipulated trap color (appearance to humans under light with weak UV component) and UV-induced fluorescence emission, and aligned field capture results with bee vision models. Our studies show that the bees were attracted to traps that under solar illumination exhibited strong fluorescence emission exclusively in the blue spectral region. Through quantitative analysis, we established that strong spectral overlap of trap emittance with the photosensitivity characteristic of the blue receptor type and minimal overlap with those of the other two receptor types is the most critical property of attractive traps. A parameter has been identified which predicts the degree of attractiveness of the traps and which captures trends in the field data across wild bee species and for a diversity of backgrounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)705-716
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Volume201
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 13 2015

Keywords

  • Bee vision
  • Fluorescence
  • Innate behavior
  • Selective receptor excitation
  • Wild bees

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