Institut für Evolution und Ökologie

Active photolocation

Active sensing using light is considered very rare. In vertebrates it is assumed to be used only by nocturnal or deep-sea chemiluminescent fishes with a subocular light organ below their eyes.

This line of research tests if active sensing using light is also present in diurnal fishes, substantially broadening the scope and ecological context in which active sensing with light can take place. Our approach combines large scale behavioural experiments in the field with more theoretical visual modelling, to better understand the conditions under which "diurnal active photolocation" can function and substantially enhance visual perception abilities of small fish when detecting cryptic prey or predators. 

Publications from this project

  • Bitton, P.-P. et al. (2019): Visual modelling supports the potential for prey detection by means of diurnal active photolocation in a small cryptobenthic fish. Scientific Reports
  • Santon, M. el al. (2019): The contrast sensitivity function of a small cryptobenthic marine fish. Journal of vision
  • Michiels, N. K. et al. (2018): Controlled iris radiance in a diunal fish looking at prey. Royal Society Open Science
  • Santon, M., Bitton, P.-P., Harant, U. K. & Michiels, N. K. (2018): Daytime eyeshine contributes to pupil camouflage in a cryptobenthic marine fish. Scientific Reports
  • Harant, U., Michiels N.K. (2017): Fish with red fluorescent eyes forage more efficiently under dim, blue-green light conditions BMC Ecology
  • Fritsch, R., Ullmann, J.F.P., Bitton, P.P., Collin, S.P., Michiels, N.K. (2017): Optic-nerve-transmitted eyeshine, a new type of light emission from fish eyes. Frontiers in Zoology 2017


Nico Michiels
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room E5P21