Spectral sensitivity of four species of fiddler crabs (Uca pugnax, Uca pugilator, Uca vomeris and Uca tangeri) measured by in situ microspectrophotometry
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Type of Work7 pages
Citation of Original PublicationJoana M. Jordão, Thomas W. Cronin, Rui F. Oliveira, Spectral sensitivity of four species of fiddler crabs (Uca pugnax, Uca pugilator, Uca vomeris and Uca tangeri) measured by in situ microspectrophotometry, Journal of Experimental Biology 2007 210: 447-453; doi: 10.1242/jeb.02658
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Fiddler crabs have compound eyes that are structurally fairly well understood. However, there has been much debate regarding their spectral sensitivity and capacity to enable colour discrimination. We examined the visual pigments of two North-American species (Uca pugnax and U. pugilator), one species from the Indo-West Pacific (U. vomeris) and the only Eastern-Atlantic species (U. tangeri) of fiddler crabs using in situ microspectrophotometry of frozen sections of dark-adapted eyes. Only one spectral class of visual receptor was found in the larger (R1–7) retinular cells of each species, with maximum absorption peaking between 508·nm and 530·nm (depending upon species). The R8 retinular cell, that might contain a shortwavelength sensitive photopigment and provide a basis for colour vision, was too small to analyze by these methods. Rhabdoms were lined with screening pigment which strongly influenced each species’ spectral sensitivity, sharpening the peak and shifting the maximum towards longer wavelengths, on occasion to as far as the 600·nm region. We hypothesize that sensitivity to longer wavelengths enhances contrast between background (blue sky or tall vegetation) and the male major claw during the waving display.