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Data from: Redirection of ambient light improves predator detection in a diurnal fish

Citation

Santon, Matteo et al. (2019), Data from: Redirection of ambient light improves predator detection in a diurnal fish, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.3bk3j9kdn

Abstract

Cases where animals use controlled illumination to improve vision are rare and thus far limited to chemiluminescence, which only functions in darkness. This constraint was recently relaxed by studies on Tripterygion delaisi, a small triplefin that redirects sunlight instead. By reflecting light sideways with its iris, it has been suggested to induce and detect eyeshine in nearby microprey. Here, we test whether "diurnal active photolocation" also improves T. delaisi's ability to detect a cryptobenthic sit-and-wait predator Scorpaena porcus, a scorpionfish with strong daytime retroreflective eyeshine. Three independent experiments revealed that triplefins in which light redirection was artificially suppressed approached scorpionfish significantly closer than two control treatments before moving away to a safer distance. Visual modelling confirmed that ocular light redirection by a triplefin is sufficiently strong to generate a luminance increase in scorpionfish eyeshine that can be perceived by the triplefin over 6-8 cm under average conditions. These distances coincide well with the closest approaches observed. We conclude that light redirection by small, diurnal fish significantly contributes to their ability to visually detect cryptic predators, strongly widening the conditions under which active sensing with light is feasible. We discuss the consequences for fish eye evolution.