Abigail Shaughnessy

Email: a.shaughnessy@uq.net.au

Colour vision in animals is remarkably diverse and greatly differs from the human visual system and most animals have 2, 3, or 4 cone spectral sensitivities (di-, tri-, and tetrachromacy, respectively).  However, there has been little investigation on a potentially pentachromatic visual system, which demonstrates a significant gap in our understanding of animal visual systems. Boxfish are notoriously known for their unique shape and quirky swimming habits. However, these fish have been reported to have five spectral sensitivities and how they see the world is yet to be uncovered. Having five spectral sensitivities may allow boxfish to discriminate a wider range of colour or have a finer discrimination in comparison to animals with fewer spectral sensitivities. During my honours, I am hoping to use both behavioural experiments and molecular techniques to gain an initial understanding into a potentially pentachromatic animal. This investigation will provide insights into the significance of having five chromacy levels and help determine in more detail the visual performance of animals with five spectral sensitivities.

Supervisor: Dr. Karen Cheney

A boxfish being trained to peck at a spot on the iPad in order to receive a food reward.

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