Electrophysiological measurements of spectral mechanisms in the retinas of two cervids: white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and fallow deer (Dama dama)

J Comp Physiol A. 1994 May;174(5):551-7. doi: 10.1007/BF00217375.


Electroretinogram (ERG) flicker photometry was used to study the spectral mechanisms in the retinas of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and fallow deer (Dama dama). In addition to having a rod pigment with maximum sensitivity (lambda max) of about 497 nm, both species appear to have two classes of photopic receptors. They share in common a short-wavelength-sensitive cone mechanism having lambda max in the region of 450-460 nm. Each also has a cone having peak sensitivity in the middle wavelengths, but these differ slightly for the two species. In white-tailed deer the lambda max of this cone is about 537 nm; for the fallow deer the average lambda max value for this mechanism was 542 nm. Deer resemble other ungulates and many other types of mammal in having two classes of cone pigment and, thus, the requisite retinal basis for dichromatic color vision.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Color Perception / physiology
  • Deer / physiology*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Electroretinography
  • Eye Color / physiology
  • Female
  • Light
  • Male
  • Photometry
  • Photoreceptor Cells / physiology
  • Retina / physiology*
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / physiology
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / physiology
  • Species Specificity
  • Ultraviolet Rays