We review the visual systems of crustacean larvae, concentrating on the compound eyes of decapod and stomatopod larvae as well as the functional and behavioral aspects of their vision. Larval compound eyes of these macrurans are all built on fundamentally the same optical plan, the transparent apposition eye, which is eminently suitable for modification into the abundantly diverse optical systems of the adults. Many of these eyes contain a layer of reflective structures overlying the retina that produces a counterilluminating eyeshine, so they are unique in being camouflaged both by their transparency and by their reflection of light spectrally similar to background light to conceal the opaque retina. Besides the pair of compound eyes, at least some crustacean larvae have a non-imaging photoreceptor system based on a naupliar eye and possibly other frontal eyes. Larval compound-eye photoreceptors send axons to a large and well-developed optic lobe consisting of a series of neuropils that are similar to those of adult crustaceans and insects, implying sophisticated analysis of visual stimuli. The visual system fosters a number of advanced and flexible behaviors that permit crustacean larvae to survive extended periods in the plankton and allows them to reach acceptable adult habitats, within which to metamorphose.
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