Visual capabilities in a crepuscular marsupial, the honey possum (Tarsipes rostratus): a visual approach to ecology

Catherine Arrese, Michael Archer, Lyn Beazley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Behavioural and anatomical analyses were undertaken to determine the visual capabilities of a small nectivorous Australian marsupial, the honey possum Tarsipes rostratus. It is proposed that, despite a crepuscular lifestyle and a low visual acuity, vision contributes substantially to the honey possum's perception of its environment. Visual acuity, determined using a discrimination task, revealed a slightly higher performance in daylight (0.63 cycles/degree) than in moonlight and starlight (0.60 cycles/degree). Ultrastructural analysis of the outer retina revealed a rod to cone ratio comparable to that found in diurnal retinae (20:1 in the central retina). Two types of oil droplets were distinguished on the basis of size. The degree of neural convergence was also similar to that found in a diurnal retina, with a ratio of 12 photoreceptors:1 ganglion cell. The remarkable total field of view, approaching 240degrees of visual angle and including a binocular overlap of 80degrees in the horizontal plane, provides an efficient predator detection capacity. The visual capabilities of the honey possum are discussed in relation to its lifestyle and the associated visual requirements.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-158
JournalJournal of Zoology
Volume256
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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