Fish vision and the detection of planktonic prey

Science  17 Dec 1982:
Vol. 218, Issue 4578, pp. 1240-1242
DOI: 10.1126/science.7146908


Planktivorous sunfish of various sizes were studied to ascertain whether growth-related changes in the retina are related to the ability to capture small planktonic crustaceans. Behaviorally, the larger fish detected and captured crustaceans that subtended smaller visual angles. Histological examination of the retinas revealed that the distance between cones, measured in minutes of visual angle, decreased as the animals grew, suggesting that the larger retinas could resolve smaller objects. These correlated behavioral and anatomical results suggest that improved visual resolution contributes to improved predation. This finding provides a selective advantage for the continuous retinal growth noted in many fish.