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Featuring our visual ecology research...

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What we do in our research lab at Purdue University?



In our lab, we are interested in understanding the factors that shaped the evolution of visual systems in birds. This is a complicated riddle to solve due to the many potential factors (predation, food types, light levels, habitat type, etc.) that could have played some role. However, we take a baby-step approach. In this first phase, we are looking at the relative role of two factors:

(a) using the visual systems to reduce predation.  For instance, some species (ducks) have their eyes laterally placed, which would allow them to detect predators from different spots around their heads even when head down foraging. 

(b) using the visual systems to improve the ability to find and capture food. For instance, some species have their eyes placed frontally, which increases the degree of binocular overlap, and likely the ability to capture prey. These species tend to have lower predation pressure, and are predators themselves.

We answer this question using a comparative approach, which means studying the relationship between visuals systems and the behavior of many different bird species. We first characterize some aspects of the visual systems (visual fields, visual acuity, eye movements, color vision) and then study bird foraging and anti-predator behavior.



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Updated: 01/09/2010 Copyright 2007-2010 - Esteban Fernandez-Juricic