The Impact of Domestication on the Chicken Optical Apparatus
2013 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 8, no 6, e65509- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Domestication processes tend to release animals from natural selection and favour traits desired by humans, such as food-production and co-operative behaviour. A side effect of such selective breeding is the alteration of unintended traits. In this paper, we investigate how active selection for egg production in chickens has affected the visual system, in particular the optical sensitivity that relates to the ability of chickens to see in dim light. We measured eye dimensions as well as the pupil diameter at different light intensities (the steady state pupil dynamics), in adult male and female White Leghorns and the closest relatives to their ancestor, the Red Junglefowls. With this information, we calculated the focal length and optical sensitivity (f-number) of the eyes. Males have larger eyes than females in both breeds and White Leghorn eyes are larger than those of Red Junglefowls in both sexes. The steady state pupil dynamics is less variable, however, the combination of pupil dynamics and eye size gives a higher optical sensitivity in Red Junglefowl eyes than in White Leghorns at light intensities below approximately 10 cd/m2. While eye size and focal length match the larger body size in White Leghorns compared to Red Junglefowls, the steady state pupil dynamics do not. The reason for this is likely to be that eye morphology and the neuro-muscular control of the pupil have been affected differently by the strong selection for egg production and the simultaneous release of the selection pressure for high performing vision. This study is the first description of how optical sensitivity has changed in a domesticated species and our results demonstrate important considerations regarding domestication processes and sensory ability.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Public Library of Science , 2013. Vol. 8, no 6, e65509- p.
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-93950DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065509ISI: 000320322400030OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-93950DiVA: diva2:628196