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Visual acuity of the honey bee retina and the limits for feature detection

  • Elisa Rigosi
  • Steven D Wiederman
  • David C. O'Carroll
Publiceringsår: 2017-04-06
Språk: Engelska
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Scientific Reports
Volym: 7
Dokumenttyp: Artikel i tidskrift
Förlag: Nature Publishing Group

Abstract english

Visual abilities of the honey bee have been studied for more than 100 years, recently revealing unexpectedly sophisticated cognitive skills rivalling those of vertebrates. However, the physiological limits of the honey bee eye have been largely unaddressed and only studied in an unnatural, dark state. Using a bright display and intracellular recordings, we here systematically investigated the angular sensitivity across the light adapted eye of honey bee foragers. Angular sensitivity is a measure of photoreceptor receptive field size and thus small values indicate higher visual acuity. Our recordings reveal a fronto-ventral acute zone in which angular sensitivity falls below 1.9°, some 30% smaller than previously reported. By measuring receptor noise and responses to moving dark objects, we also obtained direct measures of the smallest features detectable by the retina. In the frontal eye, single photoreceptors respond to objects as small as 0.6° × 0.6°, with >99% reliability. This indicates that honey bee foragers possess significantly better resolution than previously reported or estimated behaviourally, and commonly assumed in modelling of bee acuity.


  • Zoology


  • ISSN: 2045-2322
Elisa Rigosi
E-post: elisa [dot] rigosi [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se


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Biträdande handledare

Bo Bekkouche


David O'Carroll