Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Visual systems play a vital role in guiding the behaviour of animals. Understanding the visual information animals are able to acquire is therefore key to understanding their visually mediated decision making. Compound eyes, the dominant eye type in arthropods, are inherently low-resolution structures. Their ability to resolve spatial detail depends on sampling resolution (interommatidial angle) and the quality of ommatidial optics. Current techniques for estimating interommatidial angles are difficult, and generally require in vivo measurements. Here, we present a new method for estimating interommatidial angles based on the detailed analysis of 3D micro-computed tomography images of fixed samples. Using custom-made MATLAB software, we determined the optical axes of individual ommatidia and projected these axes into the 3D space around the animal. The combined viewing directions of all ommatidia, estimated from geometrical optics, allowed us to estimate interommatidial angles and map the animal's sampling resolution across its entire visual field. The resulting topographic representations of visual acuity match very closely the previously published data obtained from both fiddler and grapsid crabs. However, the new method provides additional detail that was not previously detectable and reveals that fiddler crabs, rather than having a single horizontal visual streak as is common in flat-world inhabitants, probably have two parallel streaks located just above and below the visual horizon. A key advantage of our approach is that it can be used on appropriately preserved specimens, allowing the technique to be applied to animals such as deep-sea crustaceans that are inaccessible or unsuitable for in vivo approaches.

Original publication




Journal article


J Exp Biol

Publication Date





Eye map, Interommatidial angle, Micro-computed tomography, Visual ecology, Visual resolution, Animals, Brachyura, Compound Eye, Arthropod, Female, Male, Vision, Ocular, Visual Acuity, X-Ray Microtomography