Development of the compound eyes of dragonflies (Odonata). III. Adult compound eyes

J Exp Zool. 1978 Jan;203(1):61-80. doi: 10.1002/jez.1402030107.


The distribution of ommatidial diameters and interommatidial angles, as determined by measuring the angles between the optic axes of adjacent ommatidia, are mapped across the surface of the compound eyes of a variety of species selected for different adult behaviors, developmental histories, and taxonomic positions. The size of the visual fields, prey capture foveas, foveas composed of large dorsal ommatidia, and other specializations in the numbers of ommatidia that view various directions in the visual field are discussed in relation to adult behavior. Advanced species have less resemblance between their larval and adult eyes than primitive species. In contrast to their larvae, adults increase the monocular resolution of each eye at the expense of binocular vision. Most species have foveas which view in approximately the anterior direction, instead of in a region of binocular overlap, and many species have foveal bands which view along the horizon. Some advanced perching species, which approach their prey and other odonates from below, have an additional vertical foveal band that views along a vertical plane from the anterior direction to a more dorsal direction. The most unusual foveal band is seen in active flying species. The large dorsal ommatidia of the migratory Anax junius, which cover approximately one third of the eye surface, view a narrow region of the visual field that extends along a plane from the most lateral direction of one eye to a dorsal direction, and continues without interruption to the most lateral direction of the other eye.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Eye / anatomy & histology
  • Eye / growth & development*
  • Insecta / anatomy & histology
  • Insecta / growth & development*
  • Insecta / physiology
  • Ocular Physiological Phenomena
  • Visual Fields