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Computational visual ecology in the pelagic realm.

  • Dan-E Nilsson
  • Eric Warrant
  • Sönke Johnsen
Publishing year: 2014
Language: English
Publication/Series: Royal Society of London. Philosophical Transactions B. Biological Sciences
Volume: 369
Issue: 1636
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Royal Society

Abstract english

Visual performance and visual interactions in pelagic animals are notoriously hard to investigate because of our restricted access to the habitat. The pelagic visual world is also dramatically different from benthic or terrestrial habitats, and our intuition is less helpful in understanding vision in unfamiliar environments. Here, we develop a computational approach to investigate visual ecology in the pelagic realm. Using information on eye size, key retinal properties, optical properties of the water and radiance, we develop expressions for calculating the visual range for detection of important types of pelagic targets. We also briefly apply the computations to a number of central questions in pelagic visual ecology, such as the relationship between eye size and visual performance, the maximum depth at which daylight is useful for vision, visual range relations between prey and predators, counter-illumination and the importance of various aspects of retinal physiology. We also argue that our present addition to computational visual ecology can be developed further, and that a computational approach offers plenty of unused potential for investigations of visual ecology in both aquatic and terrestrial habitats.


  • Zoology
  • visual ecology
  • pelagic
  • visual range
  • computational


  • ISSN: 1471-2970
Dan-E Nilsson
E-mail: dan-e [dot] nilsson [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se


Functional zoology

+46 46 222 93 45

+46 70 623 10 64



Research group

Lund Vision Group


Doctoral students and postdocs

Phd Students, main supervisor


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