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Visual pigments, cone oil droplets and ocular media in four species of estrildid finch

Hart, N.S., Partridge, J.C., Bennett, A.T.D., Cuthill, I.C.
Journal of comparative physiology 2000 v.186 no.7-8 pp. 681-694
Fringillidae, absorbance, absorption, birds, droplets, oils, photoreceptors, pigments, spectral analysis, transmittance, wavelengths
A microspectrophotometric study was conducted on the retinal photoreceptors of four species of bird: cut-throat finches (Amadina fasciata), gouldian finches (Erythrura gouldiae), white-headed munias (Lonchura maja) and plum-headed finches (Neochmia modesta). Spectral characteristics of the photoreceptors in all four species were very similar. Rods contained a medium-wavelength-sensitive visual pigment with a wavelength of maximum absorbance at 502–504 nm. Four spectrally distinct types of single cone contained a visual pigment with wavelength of maximum absorbance at either 370–373 nm (ultraviolet-sensitive), 440–447 nm (short-wavelength-sensitive); 500 nm (medium-wavelength-sensitive) or 562–565 nm (long-wavelength-sensitive). Oil droplets in the ultraviolet-sensitive single cones showed no detectable absorption between 330 nm and 800 nm. Oil droplets in the short-, medium-, and long-wavelength-sensitive single cones had cut-off wavelengths at 415–423 nm, 510–520 nm and 567–575 nm, respectively. Double cones contained the visual pigment with wavelength of maximum absorbance at 562–565 nm observed in long-wavelength-sensitive single cones. Only the principal member of the double cone pair contained an oil droplet (P-type, cut-off wavelength at 414–489 nm depending on species and retinal location). Spectral transmittance of the intact ocular media of each species was measured along the optic axis. Wavelengths of 0.5 transmittance for all species were very similar (316–318 nm).