Absorbance of retinal oil droplets of the budgerigar : sex, spatial and plumage morph-related variation

Knott, Ben, Bowmaker, James K., Berg, Matthew L. and Bennett, Andrew T.D. 2012, Absorbance of retinal oil droplets of the budgerigar : sex, spatial and plumage morph-related variation, Journal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology, vol. 198, no. 1, pp. 43-51.

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Title Absorbance of retinal oil droplets of the budgerigar : sex, spatial and plumage morph-related variation
Author(s) Knott, Ben
Bowmaker, James K.
Berg, Matthew L.
Bennett, Andrew T.D.
Journal name Journal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Volume number 198
Issue number 1
Start page 43
End page 51
Total pages 9
Publisher Springer
Place of publication Berlin, Germany
Publication date 2012
ISSN 0340-7594
1432-1351
Keyword(s) avian vision
carotenoids
microspectrophotometry
retinal oil droplets
sensory ecology
Summary Intraspecific variation in photoreceptor physiology is known in several vertebrate taxa, but is currently unknown in birds, despite many avian traits varying intraspecifically, and avian visual ecology encompassing a wide range of environments and visual stimuli, which might influence spectral sensitivity. Avian retinal photoreceptors contain light absorbing carotenoid-rich oil droplets that affect vision. Carotenoids are also important plumage components. However, our understanding of the regulation of carotenoids in oil droplets remains rudimentary. Among birds, Melopsittacus undulatus has probably the best-studied colour vision, shows profound intraspecific variation in plumage colour, and increased plasma carotenoids during moult. We used microspectrophotometry to determine whether a relationship exists between oil droplet carotenoid concentration and plumage pigmentation, and tested for sex and spatial variation in droplet absorbance across the retina. Absorbance of one variety of P-type droplets was higher in males. No relationship was found between droplet absorbance and plumage colour. We found a spatial pattern of droplets absorbance across the retina that matched a pattern found in another parrot, and other avian species. Our work provides insights into the development and maintenance of retinal oil droplets and suggests a common mechanism and function for carotenoid deposition in the retina across bird species.
Language eng
Field of Research 059999 Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2012, Springer
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30046870

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