Nilsson Dan-Eric

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  • Article
    Pupil dilation and constriction in the skate Leucoraja erinacea in a simulated natural light field
    (The Company of Biologists, 2022-02-14) Mäthger, Lydia M. ; Bok, Michael J. ; Liebich, Jan ; Sicius, Lucia ; Nilsson, Dan-Eric
    The skate Leucoraja erinacea has an elaborately shaped pupil, whose characteristics and functions have received little attention. The goal of our study was to investigate the pupil response in relation to natural ambient light intensities. First, we took a recently developed sensory–ecological approach, which gave us a tool for creating a controlled light environment for behavioural work: during a field survey, we collected a series of calibrated natural habitat images from the perspective of the skates' eyes. From these images, we derived a vertical illumination profile using custom-written software for quantification of the environmental light field (ELF). After collecting and analysing these natural light field data, we created an illumination set-up in the laboratory, which closely simulated the natural vertical light gradient that skates experience in the wild and tested the light responsiveness – in particular the extent of dilation – of the skate pupil to controlled changes in this simulated light field. Additionally, we measured pupillary dilation and constriction speeds. Our results confirm that the skate pupil changes from nearly circular under low light to a series of small triangular apertures under bright light. A linear regression analysis showed a trend towards smaller skates having a smaller dynamic range of pupil area (dilation versus constriction ratio around 4-fold), and larger skates showing larger ranges (around 10- to 20-fold). Dilation took longer than constriction (between 30 and 45 min for dilation; less than 20 min for constriction), and there was considerable individual variation in dilation/constriction time. We discuss our findings in terms of the visual ecology of L. erinacea and consider the importance of accurately simulating natural light fields in the laboratory.
  • Article
    The giant eyes of giant squid are indeed unexpectedly large, but not if used for spotting sperm whales
    (BioMed Central, 2013-09-08) Nilsson, Dan-Eric ; Warrant, Eric J. ; Johnsen, Sonke ; Hanlon, Roger T. ; Shashar, Nadav
    We recently reported (Curr Biol 22:683–688, 2012) that the eyes of giant and colossal squid can grow to three times the diameter of the eyes of any other animal, including large fishes and whales. As an explanation to this extreme absolute eye size, we developed a theory for visual performance in aquatic habitats, leading to the conclusion that the huge eyes of giant and colossal squid are uniquely suited for detection of sperm whales, which are important squid-predators in the depths where these squid live. A paper in this journal by Schmitz et al. (BMC Evol Biol 13:45, 2013) refutes our conclusions on the basis of two claims: (1) using allometric data they argue that the eyes of giant and colossal squid are not unexpectedly large for the size of the squid, and (2) a revision of the values used for modelling indicates that large eyes are not better for detection of approaching sperm whales than they are for any other task. We agree with Schmitz et al. that their revised values for intensity and abundance of planktonic bioluminescence may be more realistic, or at least more appropriately conservative, but argue that their conclusions are incorrect because they have not considered some of the main arguments put forward in our paper. We also present new modelling to demonstrate that our conclusions remain robust, even with the revised input values suggested by Schmitz et al.