Issue compiled and edited by David O’Carroll and Eric Warrant
On a moonless night, or in the depths of the sea, where light levels are many orders of magnitude dimmer than sunlight, animals rely on their visual systems to orient and navigate, to find food and mates and to avoid predators. To see well at such low light levels is far from trivial – the paucity of light means that visual signals generated in the light-sensitive photoreceptors of the retina can easily be drowned in neural noise. Despite this, research over the past 15 years has revealed that nocturnal and deep-sea animals – even very small animals like insects with tiny eyes and brains – can have formidable visual abilities in dim light.
The collection of papers in this theme issue reveals how this visual performance is possible, and in particular which optical and neural strategies have evolved to permit reliable vision in dim light. These papers explore vision in dim light from several perspectives, from ecology, evolution and quantitative visual behaviour to cellular electrophysiology, mathematical modelling and molecular biology. Their overriding conclusion is that nocturnal and deep-sea animals do not live in an impoverished visual world, but many experience the world more or less as we do, being able to distinguish colour, negotiate obstacles during locomotion and navigate using learned visual landmarks.
This issue is available to read online.
This issue is available to buy in print.
We offer discounts for bulk orders of the print version of this journal issue for educational use (£20 per copy for 10 or more). Please contact our sales team for more information.