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High contrast sensitivity for visually guided flight control in bumblebees

  • Aravin Chakravarthi
  • Almut Kelber
  • Emily Baird
  • Marie Dacke
Publishing year: 2017-12
Language: English
Pages: 999-1006
Publication/Series: Journal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Volume: 203
Issue: 12
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Springer

Abstract english

Many insects rely on vision to find food, to return to their nest and to carefully control their flight between these two locations. The amount of information available to support these tasks is, in part, dictated by the spatial resolution and contrast sensitivity of their visual systems. Here, we investigate the absolute limits of these visual properties for visually guided position and speed control in Bombus terrestris. Our results indicate that the limit of spatial vision in the translational motion detection system of B. terrestris lies at 0.21 cycles deg−1 with a peak contrast sensitivity of at least 33. In the perspective of earlier findings, these results indicate that bumblebees have higher contrast sensitivity in the motion detection system underlying position control than in their object discrimination system. This suggests that bumblebees, and most likely also other insects, have different visual thresholds depending on the behavioral context.


  • Zoology
  • Behavioral Sciences Biology
  • Bombus terrestris
  • Hymenoptera
  • Spatial resolution
  • Contrast sensitivity
  • Motion detection system


  • Lund Vision Group
  • ISSN: 1432-1351
Emily Baird
E-mail: emily [dot] baird [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se


Functional zoology

+46 46 222 96 18

+46 72 700 55 55



Research group

Lund Vision Group


Doctoral students and postdocs

PhD Students, main supervisor

Pierre Tichit

PhD Students, assistant supervisor

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