Ecological and behavioural constraints play a major role in shaping the visual system of different organisms. In the mesopelagic zone of the deep- sea, between 200 and 1000 m, very low intensities of downwelling light remain, creating one of the dimmest habitats in the world. This ambient light is, however, enhanced by a multitude of bioluminescent signals emitted by its inhabitants, but these are generally dim and intermittent. As a result, the visual system of mesopelagic organisms has been pushed to its sensitivity limits in order to function in this extreme environment. This review covers the current body of knowledge on the visual system of one of the most abundant and intensely studied groups of mesopelagic fishes: the lanternfish (Myctophidae). We discuss how the plasticity, performance and novelty of its visual adaptations, compared with other deep-sea fishes, might have contributed to the diversity and abundance of this family.
This article is part of the themed issue ‘Vision in dim light’.
One contribution of 17 to a theme issue ‘Vision in dim light’.
- Accepted June 7, 2016.
- © 2017 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.