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Visual noise from caustic flicker does not affect the hunting success of cuttlefish

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Many animals rely on their visual systems to detect, locate or discriminate information in their environment. Environmental ‘visual noise’, however, may interfere with an animal’s ability to detect visual information, affecting decision-making processes. A ubiquitous form of visual noise in aquatic environments is caustic flicker; moving light patterns caused by the refraction of light through surface waves. While caustics impair the ability of fishes to detect prey, the impacts of caustics on the ability of non-vertebrates to target prey remains untested. In the present study, we ask whether the hunting success of the common cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) is affected by the presence of caustic flicker. To do this, we tested if both the spatial (definition) and temporal (speed) components of caustic flicker affected the ability of cuttlefish to detect and catch a common prey, the brown shrimp (Crangon crangon). Neither the spatial nor temporal components of caustic flicker affected the detection latency or the capture time of prey. Moreover, cuttlefish did not adapt their hunting behaviour, including their approach speed, movement bouts, attack distance or angle, as a function of caustic flicker. Our results show that visual noise from caustic flicker does not affect the ability of cuttlefish to hunt their prey or their hunting behaviour. We provide multiple explanations, including the role of polarization vision, for why dynamic illumination does not appear to impact the visual sensory processing of cuttlefish.



cephalopod, polarization, predator, prey interaction, sensory ecology, Sepia officinalis, vision

Journal Title

Animal Behaviour

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Elsevier BV
NERC (NE/S007164/1)
NERC (NE/S007164/1)