|Variation in Visual and Chemical Sensing in the Threespine Stickleback|
|Robert B Mobley, Janette W Boughman. Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, United States
The functioning of sensory systems highly depends on the environments in which they operate. While individual senses are responsive to only certain forms of stimulation, sensory systems commonly interact. Changes in the environment may alter the reliability of individual senses and the nature of multimodal perception. In this work, we tested how the threespine stickleback, a species that has radiated into many aquatic niches, use and integrate visual and chemical perception, and how these processes change in the face of altered sensory environments. We tested how fish associate with a stimulus detectable through visual, chemical, or both types of cues, and experimentally manipulated the environment to impede detection of these cues. We have found the use of these different forms of perception is influenced by the current sensory environment, as well as the nature of the sensory stimulus and the habitat in which fish have adapted to. These responses highlight how sensory interactions respond to both immediate and evolutionary pressures in mediating social, foraging and other behaviors.