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We have started to collect a list of literature featuring research on spectral sensitivities of photoreceptors in a variety of organisms. Please let us know if you are aware of research that should be featured on this site. This list makes no claim on being complete nor do we comment on any of the listed research. Bear in mind that many animal eyes contain components such as the cornea, oil dropplets and the occular media which modify the spectral sensitivities of a visual system. Check carefully if that applies to a species of your interest and if the data you are using takes these into account. Some of this literature simply cites originial sources and these papers are therefore not the original authors of the spectral sensitvities. Please make sure you source the original authors if you end up using their data. This list is work in progress and can be used as a start for individual literature research if you are looking for spectral sensitivities of organisms not supplied by the MICA toolbox. See here for how to implement these into the toolbox. If you end up adding your own spectral sensitvities to the toolbox we will be stoked if you forward them to us and we will add them to the toolbox with thorough accreditation.

Please do give this platform credit in case you do make use of this list.

Fresh picks:

For a good – very recent- read on non-model organism visual systems have a look at this freshly published special issue.

For a recent, thorough, review on insect colour vision see here


(Seifert et al., 2020)

(Vasconcelos et al., 2019)

(Hart, 2001)

(Maier, 1992)

(Vorobyev & Osorio, 1998)

(Olsson et al., 2015)

(Lind, 2016)

(Bowmaker et al., 1997)

(Hart et al., 2000)

(Osorio et al., 1999)


(Hauzman, 2020)

(Macedonia et al., 2006)

(Nagloo et al., 2016)

(Bhattacharyya et al., 2017)

(Young et al., 2012)


(Rozenblit and Gollisch, 2020)

(Donner & Yovanovitch, 2020)

(Kleinschmidt & Harosi, 2006)

(Ma et al., 2001)

(Deutschlander & Phillips, 1995)

(Ehret et al., 1983)

(Mohun et al., 2010)

(Palacios et al., 1998)

(Röll, 2000)


(Briscoe & Chittka, 2001)

(Vorobyev et al., 2001)

(Arikawa, 2003)

(Henze et al., 2018)

(van der Kooi et al. 2020)


(Li, 2020)

(Jacobs, 2009)

(Neitz et al., 1989)

(Calderone & Jacobs, 2003)

(Clark & Clark, 2016)

(Griebel et al., 2006)

(Douglas & Jeffery, 2014)

(Yokoyama & Bernhard Radlwimmer, 1999)

(Stiles, 2006)

(Jacobs et al., 1990)

(Arrese et al., 2002)

(Deakin et al., 2010)

(Loop, Millican, & Thomas, 1987)


(Hamaski, 1968)


(Marshall et al., 1991)

(Henze & Oakley, 2015)

(Jordao et al., 2007)

(Cronin et al., 1993)

(Horch et al., 2002)

(Caves et al., 2016)


(Cortesi et al., 2020)

(de Busserolles et al., 2020)

(Hart, 2020)

(Carleton and Yourick, 2020)

(Fain, 2020)

(Cheney et al., 2013)

(Cortesi et al., 2015)

(Neumeyer, 1984)

(Endler, 1991)

(Carleton & Kocher, 2001)

(Douglas & Partridge, 1997)

(Douglas et al., 1998)

(Sandkam et al., 2018)


Arikawa, K. 2003. Spectral organization of the eye of a butterfly, Papilio. J. Comp. Physiol. A Neuroethol. Sensory, Neural, Behav. Physiol. 189: 791–800.

Arrese, C.A., Hart, N.S., Thomas, N., Beazley, L.D. & Shand, J. 2002. Trichromacy in Australian Marsupials. Curr. Biol. 12: 657–660.

Bhattacharyya, N., Darren, B., Schott, R.K., Tropepe, V. & Chang, B.S.W. 2017. Cone-like rhodopsin expressed in the all-cone retina of the colubrid pine snake as a potential adaptation to diurnality. J. Exp. Biol. 220: 2418–2425.

Bowmaker, J.K., Heath, L.A., Wilkie, S.E. & Hunt, D.M. 1997. Visual pigments and oil droplets from six classes of photoreceptor in the retinas of birds. Vision Res. 37: 2183–2194.

Briscoe, A.D. & Chittka, L. 2001. The evolution of color vision in insects. Annu. Rev. Entomol. 46: 471–510.

Calderone, J.B. & Jacobs, G.H. 2003. Spectral properties and retinal distribution of ferret cones. Neurosci. Res. 20: 11–17. UQ Library.

Carleton, K. L. and Yourick, M. R. (2020). Axes of visual adaptation in the ecologically diverse family Cichlidae. Semin. Cell Dev. Biol. 106, 43–52.

Carleton, K.L. & Kocher, T.D. 2001. Cone opsin genes of African cichlid fishes: Tuning spectral sensitivity by differential gene expression. Mol. Biol. Evol. 18: 1540–1550.

Caves, E.M., Frank, T.M. & Johnsen, S. 2016. Spectral sensitivity, spatial resolution, and temporal resolution and their implications for conspecific signalling in cleaner shrimp. J. Exp. Biol. 219: 597–608.

Cheney, K.L., Newport, C., McClure, E.C. & Marshall, N.J. 2013. Colour vision and response bias in a coral reef fish. J. Exp. Biol. 216: 2967–73.

Clark, D.L. & Clark, R.A. 2016. Neutral point testing of color vision in the domestic cat. Exp. Eye Res. 153: 23–26. Elsevier Ltd.

Cortesi, F., Feeney, W.E., Ferrari, M.C.O., Waldie, P.A., Phillips, G.A.C., McClure, E.C., et al. 2015. Phenotypic plasticity confers multiple fitness benefits to a mimic. Curr. Biol. 25: 949–954.

Cortesi, F., Mitchell, L. J., Tettamanti, V., Fogg, L. G., de Busserolles, F., Cheney, K. L. and Marshall, N. J. (2020). Visual system diversity in coral reef fishes. Semin. Cell Dev. Biol.106, 31–42.

Cronin, T.W., Marshall, N.J. & Caldwell, R.L. 1993. Photoreceptor spectral diversity in the retinas of squilloid and lysiosquilloid stomatopod crustaceans. J. Comp. Physiol. A 172: 339–350.

Deakin, J.E., Waters, P.D. & Graves, J.A.M. 2010. Marsupial genetics and genomics.

de Busserolles, F., Fogg, L., Cortesi, F. and Marshall, J. (2020). The exceptional diversity of visual adaptations in deep-sea teleost fishes. Semin. Cell Dev. Biol.106, 20–30.

Deutschlander, M.E. & Phillips, J.B. 1995. Characterization of an ultraviolet photoreception mechanism in the retina of an amphibian, the axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum). Neurosci. Lett. 197: 93–96.

Donner, K. and Yovanovich, C. A. M. (2020). A frog’s eye view: Foundational revelations and future promises. Semin. Cell Dev. Biol.106, 72–85

Douglas, R.H. & Partridge, J.C. 1997. On the visual pigments deep-sea fish. J. Fish Biol. 50: 68–85.

Douglas, R.H., Partridge, J.C. & Marshall, N.J. 1998. The eyes of deep-sea fish I: Lens pigmentation, tapeta and visual pigments. Prog. Retin. Eye Res. 17: 597–636.

Douglas, R. H., & Jeffery, G. (2014). The spectral transmission of ocular media suggests ultraviolet sensitivity is widespread among mammals. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 281(1780).

Ehret, G., Moffat, A.J.M. & Capranica, R.R. 1983. Two‐tone suppression in auditory nerve fibers of the green treefrog (Hylacinerea). J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 73: 2093–2095.

Endler, J.A. 1991. Variation in the appearance of guppy color patterns to guppies and their predators under different visual conditions. Vision Res. 31: 587–608.

Griebel, U., König, G. & Schmid, A. 2006. Spectral sensitivity in two species of pinnipeds (Phoca vitulina and Otaria flavescens). Mar. Mammal Sci. 22: 156–166.

Hamaski, D.I. 1968. Erg-Determined of the Spectral Octopus ’ Sensitivity. 8: 1013–1021.

Hart, N.S. 2001. Variations in cone photoreceptor abundance and the visual ecology of birds. J. Comp. Physiol. – A Sensory, Neural, Behav. Physiol. 187: 685–697.

Hart, N. S. (2020). Vision in sharks and rays: Opsin diversity and colour vision. Semin. Cell Dev. Biol.106, 12–19

Hart, N.S., Partridge, J.C., Cuthill, I.C. & Bennett, A.T.D. 2000. Visual pigments, oil droplets, ocular media and cone photoreceptor distribution in two species of passerine bird: The blue tit (Parus caeruleus L.) and the blackbird (Turdus merula L.). J. Comp. Physiol. – A Sensory, Neural, Behav. Physiol. 186: 375–387.

Hauzman, E. (2020). Adaptations and evolutionary trajectories of the snake rod and cone photoreceptors. Semin. Cell Dev. Biol. 106, 86–93.

Henze, M.J., Lind, O., Mappes, J., Rojas, B. & Kelber, A. 2018. An aposematic colour-polymorphic moth seen through the eyes of conspecifics and predators – Sensitivity and colour discrimination in a tiger moth. Funct. Ecol. 32: 1797–1809.

Henze, M.J. & Oakley, T.H. 2015. The dynamic evolutionary history of pancrustacean eyes and opsins. Integr. Comp. Biol. 55: 830–842.

Horch, K., Salmon, M. & Forward, R. 2002. Evidence for a two pigment visual system in the fiddler crab, Uca thayeri. J. Comp. Physiol. A Neuroethol. Sensory, Neural, Behav. Physiol. 188: 493–499.

Jacobs, G.H. 2009. Evolution of colour vision in mammals. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. B Biol. Sci. 364: 2957–2967.

Jacobs, G.H., Neitz, J., II, J.F.D. & Deegan, J.F. 1990. Retinal receptors in rodents maximally sensitive to ultraviolet light. Nature 353: 655–656.

Jordao, J.M., Cronin, T.W. & Oliveira, R.F. 2007. Spectral sensitivity of four species of fiddler crabs (Uca pugnax, Uca pugilator, Uca vomeris and Uca tangeri) measured by in situ microspectrophotometry. J. Exp. Biol. 210: 447–453.

Kleinschmidt, J. & Harosi, F.I. 2006. Anion sensitivity and spectral tuning of cone visual pigments in situ. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 89: 9181–9185.

Li, W. (2020). Ground squirrel – A cool model for a bright vision. Semin. Cell Dev. Biol. 106, 127–134.

Lind, O. 2016. Colour vision and background adaptation in a passerine bird, the zebra finch ( Taeniopygia guttata ). R. Soc. Open Sci. 3: 160383.

Loop, M. S., Millican, C. L., & Thomas, S. R. (1987). Photopic spectral sensitivity of the cat. The Journal of Physiology, 382(1), 537–553.

Ma, J.X., Kono, M., Xu, L., Das, J., Ryan, J.C., Starr Hazard, E., et al. 2001. Salamander UV cone pigment: Sequence, expression, and spectral properties. Vis. Neurosci. 18: 393–399. UQ Library.

Macedonia, J.M., Lappin, A.K., Loew, E.R., McGuire, J.A., Hamilton, P.S., Plasman, M., et al. 2006. Between the devil and the deep blue sea: conspicuousness of dickerson’s collared lizard (Crotaphytus dickersonae) through the eyes of conspecifics and predators. Integr. Comp. Biol. 46: E87–E87.

Maier, E.J. 1992. Spectral sensitivities including the ultraviolet of the passeriform bird Leiothrix lutea. J. Comp. Physiol. A 170: 709–714.

Makino, C.L. 2004. Multiple visual pigments in a photoreceptor of the salamander retina. J. Gen. Physiol. 108: 27–34.

Marshall, N.J., Land, M.F., King, C.A., Cronin, T.W., Marshall, N.J., Land, M.F., et al. 1991. The compound eyes of mantis shrimps (Crustacea, Hoplocarida, Stomatopoda). II. Colour pigments in the eyes of stomatopod crustaceans: polychromatic vision by serial and lateral filtering. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. London. Ser. B Biol. Sci. 334: 57–84.

Mohun, S.M., Davies, W.L., Bowmaker, J.K., Pisani, D., Himstedt, W., Gower, D.J., et al. 2010. Identification and characterization of visual pigments in caecilians (Amphibia: Gymnophiona), an order of limbless vertebrates with rudimentary eyes. J. Exp. Biol. 213: 3586–3592.

Nagloo, N., Collin, S.P., Hemmi, J.M. & Hart, N.S. 2016.  Spatial resolving power and spectral sensitivity of the saltwater crocodile, Crocodylus porosus , and the freshwater crocodile, Crocodylus johnstoni . J. Exp. Biol. 219: 1394–1404.

Neitz, J., Geist, T. & Jacobs, G.H. 1989. Color vision in the dog. Vis. Neurosci. 3: 119–125.

Neumeyer, C. 1984. On spectral sensitivity in the goldfish. Evidence for neural interactions between different “cone mechanisms.” Vision Res. 24: 1223–1231.

Olsson, P., Lind, O. & Kelber, A. 2015. Bird colour vision: behavioural thresholds reveal receptor noise. J. Exp. Biol. 218: 184–193.

Osorio, D., Vorobyev, M. & Jones, C.D. 1999. Colour vision of domestic chicks. J. Exp. Biol. 202: 2951–2959.

Palacios, A.G., Srivastava, R. & Goldsmith, T.H. 1998. Spectral and polarization sensitivity of photocurrents of amphibian rods in the visible and ultraviolet. Vis. Neurosci. 15: 319–331. UQ Library.

Rozenblit, F. and Gollisch, T. (2020). What the salamander eye has been telling the vision scientist’s brain. Semin. Cell Dev. Biol. 106, 61–71.

Röll, B. 2000. Characterization of retinal oil droplets in diurnal geckos (Reptilia, Gekkonidae). J. Exp. Zool. 287: 467–476.

Sandkam, B., Dalton, B., Breden, F. & Carleton, K. 2018. Reviewing guppy color vision: Integrating the molecular and physiological variation in visual tuning of a classic system for sensory drive. Curr. Zool. 64: 535–545.

Stiles, W.S. 2006. Color Vision: the Approach Through Increment-Threshold Sensitivity. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 45: 100–114.

van der Kooi, C. J., Stavenga, D. G., Arikawa, K., Belušič, G. and Kelber, A. (2020). Evolution of Insect Color Vision: From Spectral Sensitivity to Visual Ecology. Annu. Rev. Entomol.66, annurev-ento-061720-071644.

Vasconcelos, F. T. G. R. de, Naman, M. J. V., Hauzman, E., Baron, J., Fix Ventura, D. and Bonci, D. M. O. (2019). LWS visual pigment in owls: Spectral tuning inferred by genetics. Vision Res. 165, 90–97.

Vorobyev, M., Brandt, R., Peitsch, D., Laughlin, S.B. & Menzel, R. 2001. Colour thresholds and receptor noise: Behaviour and physiology compared. Vision Res. 41: 639–653.

Vorobyev, M. & Osorio, D. 1998. Receptor noise as a determinant of colour thresholds. Proc. R. Soc. B Biol. Sci. 265: 351–358.

Yokoyama, S. & Bernhard Radlwimmer, F. 1999. The molecular genetics of red and green color vision in mammals. Genetics 153: 919–932. Young, M., Salmon, M., Forward, R., Young, M., Salmon, M., Forward, R., et al. 2012. Visual Wavelength Discrimination by the Loggerhead Turtle, Caretta caretta. Univ. Chicago Press Journals222: 46–55.

List of Spectral Sensitivities
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