Nocturnal insects likely have evolved distinct physiological adaptations to enhance sensitivity for tasks, such as catching moving prey, where the signal-noise ratio of visual information is typically low. Using electroretinogram recordings, we measured the impulse response and the flicker fusion frequency (FFF) in six congeneric species of Myrmecia ants with different diurnal rhythms. The FFF, which measures the ability of an eye to respond to a flickering light, is significantly lower in nocturnal ants (∼125 Hz) compared to diurnal ants (∼189 Hz). However, the nocturnal ants have faster eyes at very low light intensities than the diurnal species. During the day, nocturnal ants had slower impulse responses than their diurnal counterparts. However, at night, both latency and duration significantly shortened in nocturnal species. The characteristics of the impulse responses varied substantially across all six species and did not correlate well with the measured flicker fusion frequency.
- Animal physiology
- Behavioral neuroscience