Binocular vision and foraging in ducks, geese and swans (Anatidae)

Jennifer C. Cantlay, Graham R. Martin, Stephanie C. McClelland, Simon Potier, Michelle F. O'Brien, Esteban Fernández-Juricic, Alexander L. Bond, Steven J. Portugal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Wide variation in visual field configuration across avian species is hypothesized to be driven primarily by foraging ecology and predator detection. While some studies of selected taxa have identified relationships between foraging ecology and binocular field characteristics in particular species, few have accounted for the relevance of shared ancestry. We conducted a large-scale, comparative analysis across 39 Anatidae species to investigate the relationship between the foraging ecology traits of diet or behaviour and binocular field parameters, while controlling for phylogeny. We used phylogenetic models to examine correlations between traits and binocular field characteristics, using unidimensional and morphometric approaches. We found that foraging behaviour influenced three parameters of binocular field size: maximum binocular field width, vertical binocular field extent, and angular separation between the eye-bill projection and the direction of maximum binocular field width. Foraging behaviour and body mass each influenced two descriptors of binocular field shape. Phylogenetic relatedness had minimal influence on binocular field size and shape, apart from vertical binocular field extent. Binocular field differences are associated with specific foraging behaviours, as related to the perceptual challenges of obtaining different food items from aquatic and terrestrial environments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20231213
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number2006
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sept 2023


  • Anatidae
  • binocularity
  • blind area
  • ophthalmoscope
  • visual fields


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