The 6-ommatidium ventral eye of the water-surface-inhabiting springtail Poduara aquatica has horizontal and vertical microvilli and perceives light from the ventral, frontal and frontodorsal regions, while the 2-ommatidium dorsal eye possesses two upward-looking ommatidia with vertical microvilli. The ventral eye may serve water detection by its polarization sensitivity, even if the insect is resting with its head slightly tipped down on a raised surface. The polarization sensitivity and polarotaxis in springtails (Collembola) have not been investigated. Therefore, we performed behavioural choice experiments to study them in P. aquatica. We found that the strength of phototaxis in P. aquatica depends on the polarization characteristics of stimulating light. Horizontally and vertically polarized light were the most and least attractive, respectively, while unpolarized stimulus elicited moderate attraction. We showed that horizontally polarized light attracted more springtails than unpolarized, even if the polarized stimulus was 10 times dimmer. Thus, besides phototaxis, P. aquatica also has polarotaxis with the ability to measure or at least estimate the degree of polarization. Our results indicate that the threshold d* of polarization sensitivity in P. aquatica is between 10.1 and 25.5 %.
Egri Á. et al. Polarization sensitivity in Collembola (2016)
Ádám Egri, Alexandra Farkas, György Kriska, Gábor Horváth
Polarization sensitivity in Collembola: An experimental study of polarotaxis in the water-surface-inhabiting springtail Podura aquatica.
Journal of Experimental Biology 219 (16): pp. 2567-2576.
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