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Title:The ecology of color: how color affects visual behaviors in aquatic habitats in a sexually dimorphic species (Lucania goodei) and their major predator (Micropterus salmoides)
Author(s):Mitchem, Lisa D
Advisor(s):Fuller, Rebecca C.
Department / Program:School of Integrative Biology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:Aquatic ecosystems consist of a complex array of fish coloration and patterning that are mediated by a balance of predation and sexual selection. Optimal coloration presumably increases conspicuousness to conspecific mates while simultaneously reducing conspicuousness to heterospecific predators. Therefore, an integrative approach is critical to determine the selective forces acting on body coloration within an environment. In the first study, Lucania goodei (bluefin killifish), a sexually dimorphic fish species native to freshwater ecosystems in Florida, was used as a model to examine the effects of lighting environment on intra- and inter- sexual selection (i.e., male competition and female choice). Male L. goodei are polymorphic, displaying either red, yellow, or blue anal fins and these color morphs differ in abundance based on the lighting environment. Blue color morphs are abundant in tannin-stained, swamp waters and scarce in clear, spring waters. Female choice and male dominance assays were used to determine the role of lighting environment on sexual behaviors. L. goodei females displayed no preference for male anal fin coloration. Whereas, males with blue anal fins were significantly more dominant than males with red and yellow anal fins in tannin-stained environments. The second study sought to understand the visual system of the major predator of L. goodei, the largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides). The ultimate goal was to predict and test visually mediated predation of M. salmoides on L. goodei color morphs in spring and swamp populations. This study sought to determine the basic visual properties of M. salmoides and to test a simple model of visual perception. M. salmoides possess dichromatic vision with photoreceptor cells maximally sensitive at 535 nm and 614.5 nm. Behavioral assays determined that bass are able to learn and respond to various colored cues. Bass could be trained to recognize red and green signals and could discern these from achromatic signals that were matched for brightness. However, there were colors that humans could readily discern (yellow and blue) that bass could not discern from achromatic signals matched for brightness (white and black, respectively).
Issue Date:2017-07-17
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Lisa Mitchem
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-03-02
Date Deposited:2017-08

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