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Visual Ecology$
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Thomas W. Cronin, Sönke Johnsen, N. Justin Marshall, and Eric J. Warrant

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691151847

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691151847.001.0001

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Polarization Vision

Polarization Vision

Chapter:
(p.178) 8 Polarization Vision
Source:
Visual Ecology
Author(s):

Thomas W. Cronin

Sönke Johnsen

N. Justin Marshall

Eric J. Warrant

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691151847.003.0008

This chapter explores how polarization sensitivity is achieved in animals and how it is used in natural behavior. Arthropods are famous for their polarization sensitivity, but other animals, including vertebrates are also capable of this. A remarkable feature of some insect systems is that the sky pattern is genetically imprinted into the neural arrangements, all the way through to the central nervous system. However, celestial navigation is not the only use to which animals can put polarization vision. Other functions may include communication, contrast enhancement, and camouflage breaking. Polarized light stimuli are abundant in nature. Although no important source of light is polarized, light may become polarized when it is scattered or reflected. These two fundamental principles produce abundant polarized light in natural scenes, which explains why polarization vision is so common.

Keywords:   polarization vision, natural behavior, arthropods, vertebrates, insect systems, celestial navigation, contrast enhancement, camouflage breaking

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