The University of Western Australia

UWA Staff Profile

Ipsum Lorem

Nathan Hart

Dr Nathan Hart

Senior Research Fellow
Animal Biology, School of

Contact details
School of Animal Biology
The University of Western Australia (M317)
35 Stirling Highway
+61 8 6488 3960
+61 8 6488 7527
Room 111a, Curnow Building, Crawley campus
BSc PhD Brist.
Associate Professor Nathan Hart is an expert in comparative neurobiology of the retina. He did his PhD on colour vision in birds at the University of Bristol, UK. He moved to Australia in 1999 and ever since has been working on the visual systems of all the main vertebrate groups, including: hagfish, lampreys, teleost fish, rays, sharks, lizards, snakes, birds, marsupial and placental mammals. Most recently he has been looking at the ability of elasmobranchs to see colour. The main thrust of his research is to understand what natural selection pressures drive adaptation in (and thus evolution of) the visual system.
Key research
Evolution of vision
Colour vision
Visual Neuroscience
Recent significant publications:

Fitzgerald M, Hodgetts S, Van Den Heuvel C, Natoli R, Hart NS, Valter K, Harvey AR, Vink R, Provis J and Dunlop SA (2013) Red/near-infrared irradiation therapy for treatment of central nervous system injuries and disorders. Reviews in the Neurosciences 24(2): 205–226. DOI: 10.1515/revneuro-2012-0086

Coimbra JP, Hart NS, Collin SP and Manger PR (2013) Scene from above: Retinal ganglion cell topography and spatial resolving power in the giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis). Journal of Comparative Neurology 521(9): 2042–2057. DOI: 10.1002/cne.23271

Claes JM, Dean MN, Nilsson D-E, Hart NS and Mallefet J (2013) A deepwater fish with ‘lightsabers’ – dorsal spine-associated luminescence in a counterilluminating lanternshark. Scientific Reports 3: 1308. DOI: 10.1038/srep01308

Kempster RM, Hart NS and Collin SP (2013) Survival of the stillest: predator avoidance in shark embryos. PLoS One 8(1): e52551. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052551

Coimbra JP, Nolan P, Collin SP and Hart NS (2012) Retinal ganglion cell topography and spatial resolving power in penguins. Brain, Behavior and Evolution 80(4): 254–268 (+Cover). DOI: 10.1159/000341901

Theiss SM, Davies WIL, Collin SP, Hunt DM and Hart NS (2012) Cone monochromacy and visual pigment spectral tuning in wobbegong sharks. Biology Letters 8: 1019–1022. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2012.0663

Theiss SM, Collin SP and Hart NS (2012) The mechanosensory lateral line system in two species of wobbegong shark (Orectolobidae). Zoomorphology 131(4): 339–348. DOI: 10.1007/s00435-012-0161-4

Harahush BK, Green K, Webb R, Hart NS, Collin SP (2012) Optimal preservation of the shark retina for ultrastructural analysis: an assessment of chemical, microwave and high-pressure freezing fixation techniques. Microscopy Research and Technique 75(9): 1218–1228. DOI: 10.1002/jemt.22052

Wueringer BE, Squire L, Jr., Kajiura SM, Tibbetts IR, Hart NS and Collin SP (2012) Electric field detection in sawfish and shovelnose rays. PLoS One 7(7): e41605. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0041605

Lisney TJ, Theiss SM, Collin SP and Hart NS (2012) Vision in elasmobranchs and their relatives: 21st century advances. Journal of Fish Biology 80(5): 2024–2054. DOI: 10.1111/j.1095-8649.2012.03253.x

Coyle BJ, Hart NS, Carleton KL and Borgia G (2012) Limited variation in visual sensitivity among bowerbird species suggests that there is no link between spectral tuning and variation in display colouration. Journal of Experimental Biology 215(7): 1090–1105. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.062224

Wueringer BE, Squire L, Jr., Kajiura SM, Hart NS, Collin SP (2012) The function of the sawfish’s saw. Current Biology 22(5): R150–151. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.01.055

Schieber NL, Collin SP and Hart NS (2012) Comparative retinal anatomy in four species of elasmobranch. Journal of Morphology 273(4): 423–440. DOI: 10.1002/jmor.11033

Hart NS, Coimbra JP, Collin SP and Westhoff G (2012) Photoreceptor types, visual pigments, and topographic specializations in the retinas of hydrophiid sea snakes. Journal of Comparative Neurology 520(6): 1246–1261. DOI: 10.1002/cne.22784

Van-Eyk SM, Siebeck UE, Champ CM, Marshall NJ and Hart NS (2011) Behavioural evidence for colour vision in an elasmobranch. Journal of Experimental Biology 214(24): 4186-4192. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.061853

Ullmann JFP, Gallagher T, Hart NS, Barnes A, Smullen RP, Collin SP and Temple SE (2011) Tank colour increases growth, and alters colour preference and spectral sensitivity, in barramundi (Lates calcarifer). Aquaculture 322: 235–240. DOI: 10.1016/j.aquaculture.2011.10.005

Avilés JM, Soler JJ and Hart NS (2011) Sexual selection based on egg colour: physiological models and egg discrimination experiments in a cavity-nesting bird. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 65(9): 1721–1730. DOI: 10.1007/s00265-011-1180-8

Wilson M, Nacsa N, Hart NS, Weller C and Vaney DI (2011) Regional distribution of nitrergic neurons in the inner retina of the chicken. Visual Neuroscience 28(3): 205–220. DOI: 10.1017/S0952523811000083

Theiss SM, Collin SP and Hart NS (2011) Morphology and distribution of the ampullary electroreceptors in wobbegong sharks: implications for feeding behaviour. Marine Biology 158(4): 723–735. DOI: 10.1007/s00227-010-1595-1

Hart NS, Theiss SM, Harahush BK and Collin SP (2011) Microspectrophotometric evidence for cone monochromacy in sharks. Naturwissenschaften 98: 193–201. DOI: 10.1007/s00114-010-0758-8

Theiss SM, Collin SP and Hart NS (2010) Interspecific visual adaptations among wobbegong sharks (Orectolobidae). Brain, Behavior and Evolution 76: 248-260. DOI: 10.1159/000321330

Fitzgerald M, Bartlet CA, Payne SC, Hart NS, Rodger J, Harvey AR and Dunlop SA (2010) Near infrared light reduces oxidative stress and preserves function in CNS tissue vulnerable to secondary degeneration following partial transection of the optic nerve. Journal of Neurotrauma 27 (11): 2107–2119. DOI: 10.1089/neu.2010.1426

Temple S, Hart NS, Marshall N J and Collin SP (2010) A spitting image: specializations in archerfish eyes for vision at the interface between air and water. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B – Biological Sciences 277 (1694): 2607-2615. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2010.0345

O’Connor M, Garm A, Marshall NJ, Hart NS, Ekström P, Skogh C and Nillson DE (2010) Visual pigments in the lens eyes of the box jellyfish Chiropsella bronzie. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B – Biological Sciences 277 (1689): 1843–1848. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2009.2248

Collin SP, Davies WL, Hart NS and Hunt DM (2009) The evolution of early vertebrate photoreceptors. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B – Biological Sciences 364 (1531): 2925–2940. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2009.0099

Theiss SM, Hart NS and Collin SP (2009) Morphological indicators of olfactory capability in wobbegong sharks (Orectolobidae, Elasmobranchii). Brain, Behavior and Evolution 73(2): 91-101. DOI: 10.1159/000209865

Cheney KL, Skogh C, Hart NS and Marshall NJ (2009) Mimicry, colour forms and spectral sensitivity of the bluestriped fangblenny, Plagiotremus rhinorhynchos. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B – Biological Sciences 276 (1662): 1565–1573. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2008.1819

Ödeen A, Hart NS and Håstad O (2009) Assessing the use of genomic DNA as a predictor of the maximum absorbance wavelength of avian SWS1 opsin visual pigments. Journal of Comparative Physiology A 195(2): 167-173. DOI: 10.1007/s00359-008-0395-2

Harahush BK, Hart NS, Green K and Collin SP (2009) Retinal neurogenesis and ontogenetic changes in the visual system of the brown banded bamboo shark, Chiloscyllium punctatum (Hemiscyllidae, Elasmobranchii). Journal of Comparative Neurology 513(1): 83–97. DOI: 10.1002/cne.21953

Hart NS, Bailes HJ, Vorobyev M, Marshall NJ and Collin SP (2008) Visual ecology of the Australian lungfish (Neoceratodus forsteri). BMC Ecology 8: 21. DOI: 10.1186/1472-6785-8-21

Michiels NK, Anthes N, Hart NS, Herler J, Meixner AJ, Schleifenbaum F, Schulte G, Siebeck UE, Sprenger D and Wucherer MF (2008) Red fluorescence in reef fish: a novel signalling mechanism? BMC Ecology 8: 16. DOI: 10.1186/1472-6785-8-16

Loyau A, Gomez D, Moureau B, Théry M, Hart NS, Saint Jalme M, Bennett ATD and Sorci G (2007) Iridescent structurally based coloration of eyespots correlates with male mating success in the peacock. Behavioral Ecology 18(6): 1123–1131. DOI: 10.1093/beheco/arm088

Mosk V, Thomas N, Hart NS, Partridge JC, Beazley LD and Shand J (2007) Spectral sensitivities of the seahorses Hippocampus subelongatus and Hippocampus barbouri, and the pipefish Stigmatopora argus. Visual Neuroscience 24: 345–354. DOI: 10.10170S0952523807070320

Hart NS and Hunt DM (2007) Avian visual pigments: characteristics, spectral tuning and evolution. American Naturalist 169: Supplement S7–S26.

Theiss SM, Lisney TJ, Collin SP and Hart NS (2007) Colour vision and visual ecology of the blue-spotted maskray, Dasyatis kuhlii Müller & Henle, 1814. Journal of Comparative Physiology A 193: 67–79. DOI: 10.1007/s00359-006-0171-0

Hart NS, Lisney TJ and Collin SP (2006) Cone photoreceptor oil droplet pigmentation is affected by ambient light intensity. Journal of Experimental Biology 209: 4776–4787. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.02568

Schwab IR and Hart NS (2006) More than black and white. British Journal of Ophthalmology 90: 406 (Cover). DOI: 10.1136/bjo.2005.085571
Roles, responsibilities and expertise
Deputy Chair of the UWA Animal Ethics Committee
Funding received
2013: Chapuis L, Collin SP, McCauley R and Hart NS “Auditory abilities of sharks and their relatives” Sea World Research and Rescue Foundation Grant

2012–14: Hart NS, Collin SP, McCauley R and Boussaid F “Development and testing of novel shark deterrents” Government of Western Australia Applied Research Program (ARP)

2012–14: Collin SP and Hart NS “Testing and enhancement of existing shark deterrents” Government of Western Australia Applied Research Program (ARP)

2012–13: Fitzgerald M, Hart NS, Dunlop SA, Provis J, Natoli R, Hodgetts S, Harvey AR, Vink R and Van Den Heuvel C “Optimization of red/near-infrared light therapy for treatment of neurotrauma: a multi-centre collaborative approach” Western Australian Institute for Medical Research (WAIMR) Neurotrauma Research Program Grant

2012: Garza-Gisholt E, Collin SP and Hart NS “Vision and light detection in chondrichthyans.” Sea World Research and Rescue Foundation Grant

2012–14: Gower DJ, Hunt DM, Partridge JC and Hart NS “Insights from snakes into vertebrate visual evolution.” Leverhulme Trust (UK) Project Grant

2012–14: Hunt DM, Key B, Hart NS and Collin SP “The role of potassium channels in photoreceptor function.” NHMRC Project Grant

2011–12: Hunt DM, Key B, Hart NS and Collin SP “The Zebrafish as a model organism for the study of visual processes and associated inherited disorders in humans.” UWA-UQ Bilateral Research Collaboration Award

2011-13: Collin SP, Lamb TD, Hunt DM, Potter IC and Hart NS “The evolution of light detection and its impacts on early vertebrate evolution.” ARC Discovery Grant

2010: Hilder P, Cobcroft J and Hart NS “Investigation into the spectral sensitivity of Southern Bluefin Tuna larvae and juveniles.” Australian National Network in Marine Science Grant

2010: Collin SP, Johnstone R, Theiss SM and Hart NS “Applying emergent sensor network technologies to elasmobranch sensory research: the significance of environmental electromagnetic fields.” UWA-UQ Bilateral Research Collaboration Award

2008-10: Vaney DI and Hart NS “Multidimensional coding of visual information in the retina.” NHMRC Project Grant

2007-9: Marshall NJ, Collin SP, McCauley RD, Fritsches KA, Hart NS, Degnan BM, Degnan SM, Norman MD, Hooper JN, Hutchings PA, Meekan MA, Widder EA, Frank T, Partridge JC, Diebel CE, Warrant EJ, Johnsen S, Worheide G and Lindsay DJ “Deep Downunder: designing a deep-sea exploration and discovery facility for Australia” ARC Linkage Project

2007: Vaney DI, Hart NS, Barnett N, Kanjhan R, Sivyer B and Firth S “Dual-recording from the visual system” NHMRC Equipment Grant

2006-9: Hart NS “Can sharks and rays see colour?”
Sea World Research and Rescue Foundation Grant

2005-10: Hart NS and Marshall NJ “Aquatic eye design: sharks and rays as models of underwater colour and luminance vision” ARC Discovery Project and QEII Fellowship

2005-8 Arrese CA, Beazley LD, Hart NS and Hunt DM “Colour vision in birds: consequences to fatal collisions with wind farms” ARC Linkage Project

2005-7: Vaney DI and Hart NS “Generation of complex responses in retinal ganglion cells” NHMRC Project Grant

2005: Hart NS "Neuronal diversity in the avian retina" UQ Early Career Researcher Grant

2004-6: Collin SP, Trezise AEO, Hart NS and Bowmaker JK “Environmental regulation of opsin expression and spectral tuning in the vertebrate retina” ARC Discovery Project

2003: Collin SP, Trezise AEO, Hart NS and Bowmaker JK “The co-expression of visual pigments in a single photoreceptor: environmental regulation and spectral tuning” ARC Discovery Project

2001-3: Hart NS “Retinal adaptations to different lifestyles in Australian birds” UQ Postdoctoral Research Fellowship
Australia Neuroscience Society
Society for Neuroscience
JB Johnston Club
Honours and awards
2005: ARC Queen Elizabeth II Research Fellowship (5 years)
2005: Australian Academy of Science J.G. Russell Award
2001: University of Queensland Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (3 years)
1999: Royal Society (UK) Overseas Postdoctoral Fellowship (1 year)
Current external positions
Affiliate Associate Professor, University of Queensland
New and noteworthy
Media coverage on 'colour-blind sharks':
Current projects
Colour vision in sharks and rays
Vision in birds
Vision in reptiles
Vision in primitive vertebrates (hagfish, lampreys, fish)
Research profile
Research profile and publications

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Last updated:
Monday, 1 October, 2012 4:15 PM