Nicolas (Nikos) Lessios

Dept. of Neuroscience
Phone: 919-316-8697
Office: 405 Gould-Simpson
Lab: 415 Gould-Simpson
Mail: 1040 East 4th St Room GS 611

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Research Interests

My research focuses on the visual ecology of crustaceans. For my dissertation work, I focused on understanding how the light environments of temporary waters have shaped the behavior and visual systems of branchiopod crustaceans. This group of crustaceans are likely familiar to most as they include the water flea, Daphnia, and the brine shrimp (also known as the "sea monkey"), Artemia. My research found that distantly related groups of branchiopods have convergently evolved four spectral classes of photoreceptors, but unlike most animals which possess multiple classes of photoreceptors, it is unlikely that branchiopods use them for highly developed color vision. Instead these are used for neural summation under dim, spectrally variable light conditions. This has since been supported by research on the reduced structure of their visual neuropils in their optic lobe.

My current research aims to better understand how the central complex brain region of mantis shrimp crustaceans coordinate movements of its eyestalks. Mantis shrimp possess almost primate-like responses to moving stimuli and live in highly complex light environments. To address my research goals I use light measurements, behavioral assays, electrophysiology, and visual modeling.