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Supplementary Material for: Visual Acuity in Mammals: Effects of Eye Size and Ecology

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posted on 28.02.2014, 00:00 by Veilleux C.C., Kirk E.C.
Previous comparative research has attributed interspecific variation in eye size among mammals to selection related to visual acuity. Mammalian species have also been hypothesized to differ in visual acuity partly as a result of differences in ecology. While a number of prior studies have explored ecological and phylogenetic effects on eye shape, a broad comparative analysis of the relationships between visual acuity, eye size and ecology in mammals is currently lacking. Here we use phylogenetic comparative methods to explore these relationships in a taxonomically and ecologically diverse sample of 91 mammal species. These data confirm that axial eye length and visual acuity are significantly positively correlated in mammals. This relationship conforms to expectations based on theoretical optics and prior analyses of smaller comparative samples. Our data also demonstrate that higher visual acuity in mammals is associated with: (1) diurnality and (2) predatory habits once the effects of eye size and phylogeny have been statistically controlled. These results suggest that interspecific variation in mammalian visual acuity is the result of a complex interplay between phylogenetic history, visual anatomy and ecology.

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