Visual thresholds in white-tailed deer as determined by behavioral assay
Cohen, Bradley Stephen
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Despite the important role vision plays in a deer’s (Odocoileus virginianus) perception of its environment and its consequent behavior, there has been little study of deer vision. Much of what is understood about deer vision is based on the anatomical structure of the eye, characteristics of photoreceptors in the retina, and electrophysiological measurements of photoreceptoric cells. However, similar inferences in other species were not validated in subsequent behavioral assays. Thus, assumptions about visual capabilities of animals require direct behavioral substantiation. Therefore, I used a behavioral measure to examine the spectral sensitivity of deer. I created a deer-training-apparatus (DTA) to train deer to associate a stimulus light with a food reward. After successfully training deer by utilizing the DTA, I tested their responsiveness to monochromatic lights in the ultraviolet and infrared spectrum and compared it with previous studies examining their photoreceptic sensitivity. I confirmed that deer's relative sensitivity to wavelengths of light in the infrared and ultraviolet spectrum was similar to that of their previously measured photoreceptor sensitivity.