Zoological Studies

Vol. 54, 2015

Differentiation of visual spectra and nuptial colorations of two Paratanakia himantegus subspecies (Cyprinoidea: Acheilognathidae) in response to the distinct photic conditions of their habitats

Chia-Hao Chang1,2, Yi Ta Shao3,4, Wen-Chung Fu3, Kazuhiko Anraku5, Yeong-Shin Lin1,6 and Hong Young Yan3,7*

1Department of Biological Science and Technology, National Chiao Tung University, Hsinchu, Taiwan
2Department of Biology, St. Louis University, St. Louis, MO, USA
3Sensory Physiology Laboratory, Marine Research Station, Academia Sinica, I-Lan, Taiwan
4Present Address: Institute of Marine Biology, National Taiwan Ocean University, Keelung, Taiwan
5Faculty of Fisheries, Kagoshima University, Kagoshima, Japan
6Institute of Bioinformatics and Systems Biology, National Chiao Tung University, Hsinchu, Taiwan
7Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg Institute of Advanced Study, Delmenhorst, Germany

Background: Vision, an important sensory modality of many animals, exhibits plasticity in that it adapts to environmental conditions to maintain its sensory efficiency. Nuptial coloration is used to attract mates and hence should be tightly coupled to vision. In Taiwan, two closely related bitterlings (Paratanakia himantegus himantegus and Paratanakia himantegus chii) with different male nuptial colorations reside in different habitats. We compared the visual spectral sensitivities of these subspecies with the ambient light spectra of their habitats to determine whether their visual abilities correspond with photic parameters and correlate with nuptial colorations.
The electroretinogram (ERG) results revealed that the relative spectral sensitivity of P. h. himantegus was higher at 670 nm, but lower at 370 nm, than the sensitivity of P. h. chii. Both bitterlings could perceive and reflect UV light, but the UV reflection patterns differed between genders. Furthermore, the relative irradiance intensity of the light spectra in the habitat of P. h. himantegus was higher at long wavelengths (480–700 nm), but lower at short wavelengths (350–450 nm), than the light spectra in the habitats of P. h. chii.
Conclusions: Two phylogenetically closely related bitterlings, P. h. himantegus and P. h. chii, dwell in different waters and exhibit different nuptial colorations and spectral sensitivities, which may be the results of speciation by sensory drive. Sensory ability and signal diversity accommodating photic environment may promote diversity of bitterling fishes. UV light was demonstrated to be a possible component of bitterling visual communication. The UV cue may assist bitterlings in gender identification.

Key words: Bitterling; Electroretinogram; Sensory drive; UV reflection pattern.

*Correspondence: E-mail: hyyan@gate.sinica.edu.tw