Spectral sensitivity of a colour changing spider

J Insect Physiol. 2011 Apr;57(4):508-13. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2011.01.016. Epub 2011 Feb 15.


Vision plays a paramount role in some spider families such as the Salticidae, Lycosidae and Thomisidae, as it is involved in prey hunting, orientation or choice of substrate. In the thomisid Misumena vatia, for which the substrate colour affects the body colour, vision seems to mediate morphological colour changes. However, nothing is known about which component of visual signals from the substrate might be perceived, nor whether M. vatia possesses the physiological basis for colour vision. The aim of this study is thus to investigate the vision of this spider species by measuring the spectral sensitivities of the different pairs of eyes using electrophysiological methods. Extra- and intracellular electrophysiological recordings combined with selective adaptation revealed the presence of two classes of photoreceptor cells, one sensitive in the UV region of the spectrum (around 340 nm) and one sensitive in the green (around 520 nm) regions in the four pairs of eyes. We conclude that M. vatia possesses the physiological potential to perceive both chromatic and achromatic components of the environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Color Vision
  • Ocular Physiological Phenomena / radiation effects
  • Spiders / physiology*
  • Spiders / radiation effects
  • Ultraviolet Rays