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PLoS One. 2014 Oct 15;9(10):e110325. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0110325. eCollection 2014.

Rockpool gobies change colour for camouflage.

Author information

1
Centre for Ecology and Conservation, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Penryn, Cornwall, United Kingdom.

Abstract

Camouflage is found in a wide range of species living in numerous habitat types, offering protection from visually guided predators. This includes many species from the intertidal zone, which must cope with background types diverse in appearance and with multiple predator groups foraging at high and low tide. Many animals are capable of either relatively slow (hours, days, weeks) or rapid (seconds and minutes) colour change in order to better resemble the background against which they are found, but most work has been restricted to a few species or taxa. It is often suggested that many small intertidal fish are capable of colour change for camouflage, yet little experimental work has addressed this. Here, we test rock gobies (Gobius paganellus) for colour change abilities, and whether they can tune their appearance to match the background. In two experiments, we place gobies on backgrounds of different brightness (black or white), and of different colours (red and blue) and use digital image analysis and modelling of predator (avian) vision to quantify colour and luminance (perceived lightness) changes and camouflage. We find that gobies are capable of rapid colour change (occurring within one minute), and that they can change their luminance on lighter or darker backgrounds. When presented on backgrounds of different colours, gobies also change their colour (hue and saturation) while keeping luminance the same. These changes lead to predicted improvements in camouflage match to the background. Our study shows that small rockpool fish are capable of rapid visual change for concealment, and that this may be an important mechanism in many species to avoid predation, especially in complex heterogeneous environments.

PMID:
25333382
PMCID:
PMC4198244
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0110325
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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