Retinal Specialisations for Aquatic Vision: Theory and Facts

  • S. S. EasterJr.
Part of the NATO Advanced Study Institutes Series book series (NSSA, volume 1)


Most of the investigators who, over the past twenty-five years, have worked on the fish retina, have chosen this tissue for reasons unrelated to the fact that the fish is an aquatic organism, and as such, must cope with the severe problems of optical image transmission under water. Some of the problems are well understood, or at least well described, and I suggest that the physiological features which distinguish the retinas of aquatic vertebrates can be interpreted as evolutionary solutions of these problems. Taken as a general statement, this is probably unobjectionable, since nearly all biologists accept the theory of evolution via natural selection. It is when the assertion is made more specific that objections will arise. What are the features which distinguish aquatic retinas from those of land-dwelling vertebrates? What are the important optical problems underwater? What follows is one attempt to answer these questions and to tie together two previously disparate fields; namely, retinal physiology and underwater optics. At the outset, I acknowledge my debt to Dr. J.N. Lythgoe, whose papers (Lythgoe, 1966, 1968) stimulated my interest.


Ganglion Cell Receptive Field Retinal Ganglion Cell Ground Squirrel Visual Pigment 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. S. EasterJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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