Zoological Studies

Vol. 61, 2022

(update: 2022.5.10)

Changes in Red Color Sensitivity over the Spawning Cycle of Female Three-spined Stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus)

Li-Chun Li1, Chrysoula Roufidou2, Bertil Borg2, and Yi Ta Shao1,3,4,*

1Institute of Marine Biology, National Taiwan Ocean University, Keelung 202, Taiwan. *Correspondence: E-mail: itshao@mail.ntou.edu.tw (Shao).
E-mail: a159a847@gmail.com (Li)
2Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, Stockholm 10691, Sweden. E-mail: chrysoula.roufidou@zoologi.su.se (Roufidou); bertil.borg@zoologi.su.se (Borg)
3Center of Excellence for the Oceans, National Taiwan Ocean University, Keelung 202, Taiwan
4Intelligent Maritime Research Center, National Taiwan Ocean University, Keelung 202, Taiwan

Received 4 November 2021 / Accepted 22 February 2022
Communicated by Hin-Kiu Mok

Male red nuptial coloration is a primary mating signal for three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus), and the retinae of both sexes are especially sensitive to red during the breeding season. Red sensitivity is an important aspect of female mate choice in this species, but only when they are ready to spawn and not over the entire breeding period. Here, we aimed to determine if the red sensitivity of female sticklebacks change over their repeat spawning cycle. To this end, we assessed retinal opsin mRNA levels and behavioral red sensitivity in females over this cycle. Both methods indicated that females were more sensitive to red during spawning than in the inter-spawning intervals. Relative expression levels of red color opsin genes (lws) and optical motor sensitivity were high during spawning, decreased after the spawning period, and then increased again 72–96 h later when they were ready to spawn again. Thus, female sticklebacks altered their color sensitivity according to need, but the underlying mechanism remains unclear.

Key words: Red color sensitivity, Optical motor, Projector, Opsin, lws, Androgen, Stickleback.

Citation: Li LC, Roufidou C, Borg B, Shao YT. 2022.Changes in red color sensitivity over the spawning cycle of female three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). Zool Stud 61:17. doi:10.6620/ZS.2022.61-17.

Supplementary materials: Fig. S1Fig. S2Fig. S3Fig. S4