Polarization contrast of zooplankton: A model for polarization-based sighting distance

Shai Sabbah, Nadav Shashar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Transparency is commonly used by zooplankton for camouflage in open waters. Polarization vision allows planktivorous animals to increase their prey's detectability. Polarization properties of zooplankton were analyzed by measuring changes in the transmitted light. The transmitted light was subjected to depolarization and phase retardance, resulting in a species-specific polarization contrast between animal and background; from 5% in Corycaeus sp. to 92% in Undinula vulgaris (Copepoda). This contrast diminishes exponentially with distance, reaching 50% of the inherent value at 1 and 2 m, for moderately turbid and clear waters, respectively. However, at reactive distances of planktivorous fishes this contrast is reduced by less than 20%.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)444-456
Number of pages13
JournalVision Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank A. Rivlin and A. Lahianhi for writing Matlab and LabView applications for polarization calculations; E. Sarfati for servicing the MSP, R. Holzman, for statistical advice and helpful suggestions, and E. Boss and C. Erlick for enlightening discussions. Comments by two anonymous reviewers greatly improved this manuscript. We are grateful to the staff of the Interuniversity Institute of Eilat for logistical support. This research was supported by BSF Grant # 1999040, ISF Grant # 550/ 03 and a grant from the Ring Foundation.


  • Object detection
  • Polarization vision
  • Predation


Dive into the research topics of 'Polarization contrast of zooplankton: A model for polarization-based sighting distance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this