The relative importance of olfaction and vision in a diurnal and a nocturnal hawkmoth

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Nectar-feeding animals can use vision and olfaction to find rewarding flowers and different species may give different weight, to the two sensory modalities. We have studied how a diurnal or nocturnal lifestyle affects the weight given to vision and olfaction. We tested naive hawkmoths of two species in a wind tunnel, presenting an odour source and a visual stimulus. Although the two species belong to the same subfamily of sphingids, the Macroglossinae, their behaviour was quite different. The nocturnal Deilephila elpenor responded preferably to the odour while the diurnal Macroglossum stellatarum strongly favoured the visual stimulus. Since a nocturnal lifestyle is ancestral for sphingids, the diurnal species, M. stellatarum, has evolved from nocturnal moths that primarily used olfaction. During bright daylight visual cues may have became more important than odour.


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Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Zoologi
Sidor (från-till)431-437
TidskriftJournal of Comparative Physiology A
Utgåva nummer4
StatusPublished - 2006
Peer review utfördJa