All species within the conch snail family Strombidae possess large camera-type eyes that are surprisingly well-developed compared with those found in most other gastropods. Although these eyes are known to be structurally complex, very little research on their visual function has been conducted. Here, we use isoluminant expanding visual stimuli to measure the spatial resolution and contrast sensitivity of a strombid, Conomurex luhuanus. Using these stimuli, we show that this species responds to objects as small as 1.06 deg in its visual field. We also show that C. luhuanus responds to Michelson contrasts of 0.07, a low contrast sensitivity between object and background. The defensive withdrawal response elicited by visual stimuli of such small angular size and low contrast suggests that conch snails may use spatial vision for the early detection of potential predators. We support these findings with morphological estimations of spatial resolution of 1.04 deg. These anatomical data therefore agree with the behavioural measures and highlight the benefits of integrating behavioural and morphological approaches in animal vision studies. Using contemporary imaging techniques [serial block-face scanning electron microscopy (SBF-SEM), in conjunction with transmission electron microscopy (TEM)], we found that C. luhuanus have more complex retinas, in terms of cell type diversity, than expected based on previous studies of the group using TEM alone. We find the C. luhuanus retina comprises six cell types, including a newly identified ganglion cell and accessory photoreceptor, rather than the previously described four cell types.
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Published in Journal of Experimental Biology, Volume 225, Issue 16, 2022.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium provided that the original work is properly attributed.
Irwin, A. R., Williams, S. T., Speiser, D. I., & Roberts, N. W. (2022). The marine gastropod conomurex luhuanus (Strombidae) has high-resolution spatial vision and eyes with complex retinas. Journal of Experimental Biology, 225(16). https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.243927