Image statistics of the environment surrounding freely behaving hoverflies

Olga Dyakova, Martin M Mueller, Martin Egelhaaf, Karin Nordstrom

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)
    5 Downloads (Pure)


    Natural scenes are not as random as they might appear, but are constrained in both space and time. The 2-dimensional spatial constraints can be described by quantifying the image statistics of photographs. Human observers perceive images with naturalistic image statistics as more pleasant to view, and both fly and vertebrate peripheral and higher order visual neurons are tuned to naturalistic image statistics. However, for a given animal, what is natural differs depending on the behavior, and even if we have a broad understanding of image statistics, we know less about the scenes relevant for particular behaviors. To mitigate this, we here investigate the image statistics surrounding Episyrphus balteatus hoverflies, where the males hover in sun shafts created by surrounding trees, producing a rich and dense background texture and also intricate shadow patterns on the ground. We quantified the image statistics of photographs of the ground and the surrounding panorama, as the ventral and lateral visual field is particularly important for visual flight control, and found differences in spatial statistics in photos where the hoverflies were hovering compared to where they were flying. Our results can, in the future, be used to create more naturalistic stimuli for experimenter-controlled experiments in the laboratory.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)373-385
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A-Neuroethology Sensory Neural and Behavioral Physiology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


    • Free flight behavior
    • Hoverfly
    • Image statistics
    • Modelling
    • Vision


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