Abstract # 119:

Scheduled for Sunday, September 14, 2014 03:30 PM-03:45 PM: Session 19 (Decatur A) Oral Presentation


A. D. Melin1,2, G. L. Moritz2, K. Wells3, C. Danosi2, Y. Matsushita4, G. McCracken5, S. Kawamura4 and N. J. Dominy2
1Washington University, Department of Anthropology, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA, 2Dartmouth College, 3University of Adelaide, 4University of Tokyo, 5University of Tennessee, Knoxville
     Color vision variation has been linked to activity period and diet, indicating that analysis of opsin genes can reveal insights into the behavior of species. Most mammals have dichromatic vision based on two opsins, although some subterranean, marine and nocturnal mammals have lost this capacity through mutations to the short wavelength sensitive (SWS) opsin, suggesting that low-light levels favor cone monochromacy. Uniquely, primates have evolved trichromacy through duplication/divergence of the long wavelength sensitive (LWS) opsin, which has been interpreted as an adaptation to diurnal frugivory. The Archonta occupy a wide range of niches and are a rich group in which to explore the ecological correlates of color vision. We examined the opsins of key members of this group, including the only nocturnal treeshrew (Ptilocercus lowii, n=1, insectivore/frugivore), a diurnal fruit bat (Pteropus samoensis, n=11) and the most basal extant tarsier (Tarsius tarsier, n=3, insectivore). Colugos (Galeopterus variegatus, n=1, folivore/frugivore) and tarsiers have intact SWS opsins, suggesting functional dichromacy, while mutations to the SWS opsin of the pentailed treeshrew render it completely colorblind. A single, monomorphic LWS opsin was found in diurnal fruit bats. Our results reveal that nocturnality is not sufficient to explain color vision loss and that diurnal frugivory alone cannot explain the acquisition of trichromacy. These results inform our understanding of the factors shaping the evolution of complex traits such as vision.