Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 201–211

The relationship of ocular morphology to feeding modes and activity periods in shallow marine teleosts from New Zealand

  • Neville W. Pankhurst


Thirty one species of shallow water teleosts were captured from the NE coast of New Zealand. Ocular morphology was assessed in terms of eye size, pupil shape, theoretical sensitivity and acuity based on retinal morphology, and regional distribution of photoreceptors within the retina. Eye size was relatively or absolutely larger in carnivores than herbivores. Diurnal planktivores and nocturnal species of small body size maximise vision by having relatively large eyes. Anterior aphakic spaces were present in most of the species examined, and 25% of the species also had posterior aphakic spaces. Theoretical sensitivity was generally higher among nocturnal than diurnal species, however, a number of benthic and pelagic carnivores showed retinal specialization for enhanced sensitivity. Diurnal species displayed high spatial acuity, with maximum acuity occurring in carnivorous species. Crepuscular species had either high or low acuity, whereas that of nocturnal species was generally lower than in diurnal species. Ten species displayed regional variation in rod density, with crepuscular and nocturnal species showing streaks of high rod density in the retina. Eleven species of carnivores displayed regional variation in cone density, with highest density usually occurring in the caudal part of the retina. In most of the species with areas of high cone density, there was a forward visual axis that coincided with the location of the aphakic space, suggestive of accomodation along that axis.

Key words

Fish vision Retina Photoreceptors Eye size Ecomorphology 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neville W. Pankhurst
    • 1
  1. 1.Leigh Marine LaboratoryUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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