Ontogenetic changes in the response properties of the peripheral electrosensory system in the Atlantic stingray (Dasyatis sabina)

Sisneros, J.A.; Tricas, T.C.

Brain Behavior and Evolution 59(3): 130-140


ISSN/ISBN: 0006-8977
PMID: 12119532
DOI: 10.1159/000064160
Accession: 011090835

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Adult stingrays use their ampullary electroreceptors to detect prey and locate mates, but the response properties and function of their electrosensory system in the pre-adult stages are unknown. We examined the response properties of Atlantic stingray (Dasyatis sabina) electrosensory primary afferent neurons through ontogeny to determine whether encoding of electrosensory information changes with age, and how it relates to the ontogenetic encoding of biologically relevant electric stimuli. We show that during development electrosensory primary afferents increase resting discharge regularity, show an upward shift in best frequency (BF), an increase in neural sensitivity, and a decrease in band-pass. These ontogenetic changes in the response properties of the stingray electrosense are consistent with sensory adaptations to enhance the avoidance of large predators as young, and increase the location of prey and mates as adults.