Polarization sensitivity in Collembola: An experimental study of polarotaxis in the water-surface-inhabiting springtail Podura aquatica

Ádám Egri, Alexandra Farkas, G. Kriska, Gábor Horváth

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5 Citations (Scopus)


The ventral eye of the water-surface-inhabiting springtail Podura aquatica has six ommatidia with horizontal and vertical microvilli and perceives light from the ventral, frontal and frontodorsal regions, whereas the dorsal eye possesses two upward-looking ommatidia with vertical microvilli. The ventral eye may detect water by its polarization sensitivity, even if the insect is resting with its head slightly tipped down on a raised surface. The polarization sensitivity and polarotaxis in springtails (Collembola) have not been investigated. Therefore, we performed behavioural choice experiments to study them in P. aquatica. We found that the strength of phototaxis in P. aquatica depends on the polarization characteristics of stimulating light. Horizontally and vertically polarized light were the most and least attractive, respectively, while unpolarized stimulus elicited moderate attraction. We show that horizontally polarized light attracts more springtails than unpolarized, even if the polarized stimulus was 10 times dimmer. Thus, besides phototaxis, P. aquatica also performs polarotaxis with the ability to measure or at least estimate the degree of polarization. Our results indicate that the threshold d∗ of polarization sensitivity in P. aquatica is between 10.1 and 25.5%.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2567-2576
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - Aug 15 2016



  • Collembola
  • Podura aquatica
  • Polarization sensitivity
  • Polarotaxis
  • Springtail
  • Visual ecology
  • Water detection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Medicine(all)
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science

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