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  • Writer's picturevalentinadisanto

Dragonfishes' eye-size dimorphism in Biology Letters!

Updated: Jun 15

I'm thrilled to share that our paper, "Sexually dimorphic eye-size in dragonfishes, a response to a bioluminescent signaling gap," has been accepted for publication in Biology Letters. This research was spearheaded by two undergraduate students, Thao Vu, who has worked with me at Harvard, and Helena Ebeling, in the Kenaley Lab at Boston College. It's a proud moment to see their hard work and dedication culminate in this achievement.

We looked at dimorphism in the eye size of two deep-sea dragonfishes, Malacosteus niger and Phostomias guernei. These fishes live in near-total darkness and have evolved remarkable adaptations to find mates. One of these adaptations, a sexual dimorphism in eye size, helps bridge the "detection gap" in their bioluminescent communication. Males of these species have larger eyes compared to females, allowing them to detect the faint bioluminescent signals emitted by females over longer distances. This adaptation is crucial in the deep-sea environment, where individuals are sparsely distributed, and finding a mate is a significant challenge.

Thao's meticulous work involved measuring the eyes and photophores (light-producing organs) of these fishes and Helena applied models to predict how these differences impact their ability to find each other. Their findings provide new insights into the visual systems of deep-sea organisms and contribute to our broader understanding of how life adapts to extreme environments.

I couldn't be prouder of Thao and her contributions to this field. This paper is a testament to her skills, curiosity, and perseverance. Congratulations, Thao!

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