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Dr Kathryn D Feller

I am studying the neural control of the predatory strike behaviour in stomatopod crustaceans, with a focus on the sensory input required for targeting the strike system.
Dr Kathryn D Feller

Marie Sklodowska-Curie Independent Research Fellow

Office Phone: +44 (0)1223 746743

Research Interests

Controlling how the body is propelled through space is paramount for survival of most animals. Many species, including humans, use feedback provided by their visual and proprioceptive systems to correct or confirm body movements. However feedback is limited to events that form part of the past. For many high performance behaviors, such as catching a fast incoming ball, the appropriate movement must be 1. anticipated from a short observation period and 2. actuated without sensory feedback. Understanding how visual information is processed and re-coded in a predictive manner for the purpose of movement implementation is a fundamental question in neuroscience. Such ballistic movements have been studied in predatory species (i.e. salamanders, preying mantids). However, previous investigations on the neural basis of such behavior have focused on the early circuits. Much less is known about the sensorimotor conversion of this behavior. I am investigating the sensorimotor control of the fastest predatory strike on earth, boasted by stomatopods (commonly known as mantis shrimp), with the intention of revealing novel insights that will fill the current knowledge gap on the neural basis of anticipatory and ballistic movements. My research addresses three specific questions related to the vision-strike conversion in the stomatopod nervous system:

    1. What are the neural controls for releasing a stomatopod’s ballistic strike system?
    2. Which visual stimuli parameters influence the stomatopod strike decision-making process (to strike or not to strike?)
    3. What are the common themes among arthropods (stomatopods and insects) for the neural control of visual target localization and tracking?


Paloma Gonzalez-Bellido, PDN
Trevor Wardill, PDN
Martin How, University of Bristol
Nicholas Roberts, University of Bristol
Ilse Daley, University of Bristol
Thomas Cronin, University of Maryland Baltimore County
Roy Caldwell, University of California Berkley
Megan Porter, University of Hawai’I at Manoa

Key Publications

Jordan T, Wilby D, Chiou TH, Feller KD, Caldwell RL, Cronin TW, Roberts NW, (2016), A shape-anisotropic reflective polarizer in a stomatopod crustacean, Scientific Reports 6, 21744, doi: 10.1038/srep21744

Feller KD, TW Cronin, (2016), Spectral absorption of visual pigments in stomatopod larval photoreceptors, J Comp Phys A, doi: 10.1007/s00359-015-1063-y

Feller KD, Cohen JH, Cronin TW, (2014), Seeing double: visual physiology of double-retina eye ontogeny in stomatopod crustaceans, Journal of Comparative Physiology A, doi: 10.1007/s00359-014-0967-2

Feller KD, Cronin TW, (2014),  Chapter 8: Sensory Ecology of Vision. In: The Natural History of Crustaceans: Crustacean Nervous Systems and Their Control of Behavior.  C. Derby & M. Thiel (eds.), Vol III. Oxford University Press

Feller KD, Cronin TW, (2014),  Hiding opaque eyes in transparent organisms: In situ spectral and image contrast analysis of eyeshine in stomatopod larvae, The Journal of Experimental Biology 217, 1-11 doi:101242/jeb.108076

How MJ, Porter ML, Radford AN, Feller KD, Temple SE, Caldwell RL, Marshall NJ, Cronin TW, Roberts NW, (2014), Out of the blue: The evolution of horizontally polarized signals in Haptosquilla (Crustacea, Stomatopoda, Protosquillidae), The Journal of Experimental Biology doi: 10.1242/​jeb.107581

Feller KD, Cronin TW, Ahyong ST, Porter ML, (2013), Morphological and molecular description of late-stage Alima Leach, 1817 (Crustacea: Stomatopoda) larval types from Lizard Island, Australia, Zootaxa 3722(2): 22-32

Feller KD, (2013), Subclass Hoplocarida Calman, 1904: Order Stomatopoda Latreille, 1817: Larvae.  In: Treatise on Zoology – Crustacea. FR Schram & JC von Vaupel Klein (eds.), vol. 4A: 257-269. Brill, Leiden

Above: Squilla mantis is a stomatopod commonly captured for food in Southern Spain. This species posses “spearing” type raptorial appendages adapted for hunting soft bodied prey. S. mantis also possess a rather simple eye type that possesses a single class of photoreceptor.

Above: Odontodactylus brevirostris is a “smashing” type stomatopod species captured off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii. This type of mantis shrimp possesses a much more complex compound eye that can express up to 16 photoreceptor types, as well as adaptations for the discrimination of polarized light.