Send to

Choose Destination
Am Nat. 2008 Jun;171(6):831-8. doi: 10.1086/587529.

Different ranking of avian colors predicted by modeling of retinal function in humans and birds.

Author information

School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1UG, United Kingdom.


Only during the past decade have vision-system-neutral methods become common practice in studies of animal color signals. Consequently, much of the current knowledge on sexual selection is based directly or indirectly on human vision, which may or may not emphasize spectral information in a signal differently from the intended receiver. In an attempt to quantify this discrepancy, we used retinal models to test whether human and bird vision rank plumage colors similarly. Of 67 species, human and bird models disagreed in 26 as to which pair of patches in the plumage provides the strongest color contrast or which male in a random pair is the more colorful. These results were only partly attributable to human UV blindness. Despite confirming a strong correlation between avian and human color discrimination, we conclude that a significant proportion of the information in avian visual signals may be lost in translation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for University of Chicago Press
Loading ...
Support Center