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Visual Physiology of the Antarctic Amphipod Abyssorchomene plebs
Biological Bulletin
  • Jonathan H. Cohen, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution
  • Tamara M. Frank, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution
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Although the visual systems of animals living in the cold, dark water of the deep sea have been investigated for some time, little is known about vision in animals inhabiting polar oceans, where temperatures are even colder and irradiance fluctuates dramatically with ice cover and season. Physiology of the compound eye of the amphipod Abyssorchomene plebs (Gammaridea: Lysianassoidea), a common Antarctic benthic scavenger, was studied electrophysiologically by electroretinography. A. plebs has a monochromatic visual system with a spectral sensitivity maximum at 487 nm, and higher sensitivity at ultraviolet wavelengths than predicted by a visual pigment template. While irradiance sensitivity determined from V/log I curves is comparable to that of mesopelagic crustaceans, temporal resolution calculated from response waveform dynamics and as determined by critical flicker fusion frequency suggest that the A. plebs eye is slower than that of crustaceans from the deep sea. A. plebs photoreceptors are physiologically adapted for a slow lifestyle in a low-light environment, where maximizing photon capture occurs at the expense of detecting fast events in the visual scene.

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Additional Comments

NSF grant #: OPP-05-04072; NSF grant #: IBN-0343871

Citation Information
Jonathan H. Cohen and Tamara M. Frank. "Visual Physiology of the Antarctic Amphipod Abyssorchomene plebs" Biological Bulletin Vol. 211 Iss. 2 (2006) p. 140 - 148 ISSN: 0006-3185
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