We studied variations in the optical properties of the compound eyes of Uca lactea annulipes using in vivo optical and histological techniques. The distribution of resolving power in the eyes of this fiddler crab species is typical for arthropods that inhabit flat environments: the eyes possess a panoramic equatorial acute zone for vertical resolution and a steep decrease of resolution away from the eye equator in the dorsal and ventral visual fields. The dimensions of the cellular components of the ommatidia vary accordingly: in the equatorial part of the eyes, facets are larger, and crystalline cones and rhabdoms are longer than in the dorsal and ventral parts of the eyes. Along the eye equator, horizontal resolution is low compared with vertical resolution and varies little throughout the visual field. The eyes of Uca lactea annulipes are unusual in that the gradient of vertical anatomical and optical resolution is steeper in the dorsal than in the ventral visual field. We interpret this difference as indicating that the information content of the world as seen by the crabs differs above and below the horizon line in specific and predictable ways.

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