Matching Items (11)

154916-Thumbnail Image.png

Puzzling connections between behavior, spectral photoreceptor classes and visual system simplification: branchiopod crustaceans and unconventional color vision

Description

Why do many animals possess multiple classes of photoreceptors that vary in the wavelengths of light to which they are sensitive? Multiple spectral photoreceptor classes are a requirement for true

Why do many animals possess multiple classes of photoreceptors that vary in the wavelengths of light to which they are sensitive? Multiple spectral photoreceptor classes are a requirement for true color vision. However, animals may have unconventional vision, in which multiple spectral channels broaden the range of wavelengths that can be detected, or in which they use only a subset of receptors for specific behaviors. Branchiopod crustaceans are of interest for the study of unconventional color vision because they express multiple visual pigments in their compound eyes, have a simple repertoire of visually guided behavior, inhabit unique and highly variable light environments, and possess secondary neural simplifications. I first tested the behavioral responses of two representative species of branchiopods from separate orders, Streptocephalus mackini Anostracans (fairy shrimp), and Triops longicaudatus Notostracans (tadpole shrimp). I found that they maintain vertical position in the water column over a broad range of intensities and wavelengths, and respond behaviorally even at intensities below those of starlight. Accordingly, light intensities of their habitats at shallow depths tend to be dimmer than terrestrial habitats under starlight. Using models of how their compound eyes and the first neuropil of their optic lobe process visual cues, I infer that both orders of branchiopods use spatial summation from multiple compound eye ommatidia to respond at low intensities. Then, to understand if branchiopods use unconventional vision to guide these behaviors, I took electroretinographic recordings (ERGs) from their compound eyes and used models of spectral absorptance for a multimodel selection approach to make inferences about the number of photoreceptor classes in their eyes. I infer that both species have four spectral classes of photoreceptors that contribute to their ERGs, suggesting unconventional vision guides the described behavior. I extended the same modeling approach to other organisms, finding that the model inferences align with the empirically determined number of photoreceptor classes for this diverse set of organisms. This dissertation expands the conceptual framework of color vision research, indicating unconventional vision is more widespread than previously considered, and explains why some organisms have more spectral classes than would be expected from their behavioral repertoire.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016

153365-Thumbnail Image.png

Iridescent, distasteful, and blue: effectiveness of short-wavelength, iridescent coloration as a warning signal in the Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor)

Description

Warning coloration deters predators from attacking prey that are defended, usually by being distasteful, toxic, or otherwise costly for predators to pursue and consume. Predators may have an innate response

Warning coloration deters predators from attacking prey that are defended, usually by being distasteful, toxic, or otherwise costly for predators to pursue and consume. Predators may have an innate response to warning colors or learn to associate them with a defense through trial and error. In general, predators should select for warning signals that are easy to learn and recognize. Previous research demonstrates long-wavelength colors (e.g. red and yellow) are effective because they are readily detected and learned. However, a number of defended animals display short-wavelength coloration (e.g. blue and violet), such as the pipevine swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor). The role of blue coloration in warning signals had not previously been explicitly tested. My research showed in laboratory experiments that curve-billed thrashers (Toxostoma curvirostre) and Gambel's quail (Callipepla gambelii) can learn and recognize the iridescent blue of B. philenor as a warning signal and that it is innately avoided. I tested the attack rates of these colors in the field and blue was not as effective as orange. I concluded that blue colors may function as warning signals, but the effectiveness is likely dependent on the context and predator.

Blue colors are often iridescent in nature and the effect of iridescence on warning signal function was unknown. I reared B. philenor larvae under varied food deprivation treatments. Iridescent colors did not have more variation than pigment-based colors under these conditions; variation which could affect predator learning. Learning could also be affected by changes in appearance, as iridescent colors change in both hue and brightness as the angle of illuminating light and viewer change in relation to the color surface. Iridescent colors can also be much brighter than pigment-based colors and iridescent animals can statically display different hues. I tested these potential effects on warning signal learning by domestic chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus) and found that variation due to the directionality of iridescence and a brighter warning signal did not influence learning. However, blue-violet was learned more readily than blue-green. These experiments revealed that the directionality of iridescent coloration does not likely negatively affect its potential effectiveness as a warning signal.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015

157811-Thumbnail Image.png

A recruit's dilemma: collective decision-making and information content in the ant Temnothorax rugatulus

Description

An insect society needs to share information about important resources in order to collectively exploit them. This task poses a dilemma if the colony must consider multiple resource types, such

An insect society needs to share information about important resources in order to collectively exploit them. This task poses a dilemma if the colony must consider multiple resource types, such as food and nest sites. How does it allocate workers appropriately to each resource, and how does it adapt its recruitment communication to the specific needs of each resource type? In this dissertation, I investigate these questions in the ant Temnothorax rugatulus.

In Chapter 1, I summarize relevant past work on food and nest recruitment. Then I describe T. rugatulus and its recruitment behavior, tandem running, and I explain its suitability for these questions. In Chapter 2, I investigate whether food and nest recruiters behave differently. I report two novel behaviors used by recruiters during their interaction with nestmates. Food recruiters perform these behaviors more often than nest recruiters, suggesting that they convey information about target type. In Chapter 3, I investigate whether colonies respond to a tradeoff between foraging and emigration by allocating their workforce adaptively. I describe how colonies responded when I posed a tradeoff by manipulating colony need for food and shelter and presenting both resources simultaneously. Recruitment and visitation to each target partially matched the predictions of the tradeoff hypothesis. In Chapter 4, I address the tuned error hypothesis, which states that the error rate in recruitment is adaptively tuned to the patch area of the target. Food tandem leaders lost followers at a higher rate than nest tandem leaders. This supports the tuned error hypothesis, because food targets generally have larger patch areas than nest targets with small entrances.

This work shows that animal groups face tradeoffs as individual animals do. It also suggests that colonies spatially allocate their workforce according to resource type. Investigating recruitment for multiple resource types gives a better understanding of exploitation of each resource type, how colonies make collective decisions under conflicting goals, as well as how colonies manage the exploitation of multiple types of resources differently. This has implications for managing the health of economically important social insects such as honeybees or invasive fire ants.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2019

153959-Thumbnail Image.png

Chameleon color change communicates conquest and capitulation

Description

Sexual and social signals have long been thought to play an important role in speciation and diversity; hence, investigations of intraspecific communication may lead to important insights regarding key processes

Sexual and social signals have long been thought to play an important role in speciation and diversity; hence, investigations of intraspecific communication may lead to important insights regarding key processes of evolution. Though we have learned much about the control, function, and evolution of animal communication by studying several very common signal types, investigating rare classes of signals may provide new information about how and why animals communicate. My dissertation research focused on rapid physiological color change, a rare signal-type used by relatively few taxa. To answer longstanding questions about this rare class of signals, I employed novel methods to measure rapid color change signals of male veiled chameleons Chamaeleo calyptratus in real-time as seen by the intended conspecific receivers, as well as the associated behaviors of signalers and receivers. In the context of agonistic male-male interactions, I found that the brightness achieved by individual males and the speed of color change were the best predictors of aggression and fighting ability. Conversely, I found that rapid skin darkening serves as a signal of submission for male chameleons, reducing aggression from winners when displayed by losers. Additionally, my research revealed that the timing of maximum skin brightness and speed of brightening were the best predictors of maximum bite force and circulating testosterone levels, respectively. Together, these results indicated that different aspects of color change can communicate information about contest strategy, physiology, and performance ability. Lastly, when I experimentally manipulated the external appearance of chameleons, I found that "dishonestly" signaling individuals (i.e. those whose behavior did not match their manipulated color) received higher aggression from unpainted opponents. The increased aggression received by dishonest signalers suggests that social costs play an important role in maintaining the honesty of rapid color change signals in veiled chameleons. Though the color change abilities of chameleons have interested humans since the time of Aristotle, little was previously known about the signal content of such changes. Documenting the behavioral contexts and information content of these signals has provided an important first step in understanding the current function, underlying control mechanisms, and evolutionary origins of this rare signal type.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015

152635-Thumbnail Image.png

Plasticity of the red hourglass in female western black widow spiders (Latrodectus hesperus): urban ecological variation, condition-dependence, and adaptive function

Description

Urbanization provides an excellent opportunity to examine the effects of human-induced rapid environmental change (HIREC) on natural ecosystems. Certain species can dominate in urban habitats at the expense of biodiversity.

Urbanization provides an excellent opportunity to examine the effects of human-induced rapid environmental change (HIREC) on natural ecosystems. Certain species can dominate in urban habitats at the expense of biodiversity. Phenotypic plasticity may be the mechanism by which these 'urban exploiters' flourish in urban areas. Color displays and condition-dependent phenotypes are known to be highly plastic. However, conspicuous color displays are perplexing in that they can be costly to produce and may increase detection by enemies. The Western black widow spider () is a superabundant pest species that forms dense aggregations throughout metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona, USA. Adult female display a red hourglass on their abdomen, which is speculated to function as a conspicuous warning signal to enemies. Here, I performed field studies to identify how widow morphology and hourglass color differ between urban and desert subpopulations. I also conducted laboratory experiments to examine the dietary sensitivity of hourglass coloration and to identify its functional role in the contexts of agonism, mating, and predator defense. My field data reveal significant spatial variation across urban and desert subpopulations in ecology and color. Furthermore, hourglass coloration was significantly influenced by environmental factors unique to urban habitats. Desert spiders were found to be smaller and less colorful than urban spiders. Throughout, I observed a positive correlation between body condition and hourglass size. Laboratory diet manipulations empirically confirm the condition-dependence of hourglass size. Additionally, widows with extreme body conditions exhibited condition-dependent coloration. However, hourglass obstruction and enlargement did not produce any effects on the outcome of agonistic encounters, male courtship, or predator deterrence. This work offers important insights into the effects of urbanization on the ecology and coloration of a superabundant pest species. While the function of the hourglass remains undetermined, my findings characterize the black widow's hourglass as extremely plastic. Plastic responses to novel environmental conditions can modify the targets of natural selection and subsequently influence evolutionary outcomes. Therefore, assuming a heritable component to this plasticity, the response of hourglass plasticity to the abrupt environmental changes in urban habitats may result in the rapid evolution of this phenotype.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2014

150967-Thumbnail Image.png

The costs and consequences of iridescent coloration in Anna's hummingbirds (Calypte anna)

Description

Colorful ornaments in animals often serve as sexually selected signals of quality. While pigment-based colors are well-studied in these regards, structural colors that result from the interaction of light with

Colorful ornaments in animals often serve as sexually selected signals of quality. While pigment-based colors are well-studied in these regards, structural colors that result from the interaction of light with photonic nanostructures are comparatively understudied in terms of their consequences in social contexts, their costs of production, and even the best way to measure them. Iridescent colors are some of the most brilliant and conspicuous colors in nature, and I studied the measurement, condition-dependence, and signaling role of iridescence in Anna's hummingbirds (Calypte anna). While most animal colors are easily quantified using well-established spectrophotometric techniques, the unique characteristics of iridescent colors present challenges to measurement and opportunities to quantify novel color metrics. I designed and tested an apparatus for careful control and measurement of viewing geometry and highly repeatable measurements. These measurements could be used to accurately characterize individual variation in iridescent Anna's hummingbirds to examine their condition-dependence and signaling role. Next, I examined the literature published to date for evidence of condition-dependence of structural colors in birds. Using meta-analyses, I found that structural colors of all three types - white, ultra-violet/blue, and iridescence - are significantly condition-dependent, meaning that they can convey information about quality to conspecifics. I then investigated whether iridescent colors were condition-dependent in Anna's hummingbirds both in a field correlational study and in an experimental study. Throughout the year, I found that iridescent feathers in both male and female Anna's hummingbirds become less brilliant as they age. Color was not correlated with body condition in any age/sex group. However, iridescent coloration in male Anna's hummingbirds was significantly affected by experimental protein in the diet during feather growth, indicating that iridescent color may signal diet quality. Finally, I examined how iridescent colors were used to mediate social competitions in male and female Anna's hummingbirds. Surprisingly, males that were less colorful won significantly more contests than more colorful males, and colorful males received more aggression. Less colorful males may be attempting to drive away colorful neighbors that may be preferred mates. Female iridescent ornament size and color was highly variable, but did not influence contest outcomes or aggression.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2012

154807-Thumbnail Image.png

Heliconius in a new light: the effects of light environments on mimetic coloration, behavior, and visual systems

Description

Although mimetic animal coloration has been studied since Darwin's time, many questions on the efficacy, evolution, and function of mimicry remain unanswered. Müller (1879) hypothesized that unpalatable individuals converge on

Although mimetic animal coloration has been studied since Darwin's time, many questions on the efficacy, evolution, and function of mimicry remain unanswered. Müller (1879) hypothesized that unpalatable individuals converge on the same conspicuous coloration to reduce predation. However, there are many cases where closely related, unpalatable species have diverged from a shared conspicuous pattern. What selection pressures have led to divergence in warning colors? Environmental factors such as ambient light have been hypothesized to affect signal transmission and efficacy in animals. Using two mimetic pairs of Heliconius butterflies, Postman and Blue-white, I tested the hypothesis that animals with divergent mimetic colors segregate by light environment to maximize conspicuousness of the aposematic warning signal under their particular environmental conditions. Each mimetic pair was found in a light environment that differed in brightness and spectral composition, which affected visual conspicuousness differently depending on mimetic color patch. I then used plasticine models in the field to test the hypothesis that mimics had higher survival in the habitat where they occurred. Although predation rates differed between the two habitats, there was no interactive effect of species by habitat type. Through choice experiments, I demonstrated that mimetic individuals preferred to spend time in the light environment where they were most often found and that their absolute visual sensitivity corresponds to the ambient lighting of their respective environment. Eye morphology was then studied to determine if differences in total corneal surface area and/or facet diameters explained the differences in visual sensitivities, but the differences found in Heliconius eye morphology did not match predictions based upon visual sensitivity. To further understand how eye morphology varies with light environments, I studied many tropical butterflies from open and closed habitats to reveal that forest understory butterflies have larger facets compared to butterflies occupying open habitats. Lastly, I tested avian perception of mimicry in a putative Heliconius mimetic assemblage and show that the perceived mimetic resemblance depends upon visual system. This dissertation reveals the importance of light environments on mimicry, coloration, behavior and visual systems of tropical butterflies.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016

156740-Thumbnail Image.png

The Evolution of Hummingbird Coloration and Courtship Displays

Description

Animals have evolved a diversity of signaling traits, and in some species, they co-occur and are used simultaneously to communicate. Although much work has been done to understand why animals

Animals have evolved a diversity of signaling traits, and in some species, they co-occur and are used simultaneously to communicate. Although much work has been done to understand why animals possess multiple signals, studies do not typically address the role of inter-signal interactions, which may vary intra- and inter-specifically and help drive the evolutionary diversity in signals. For my dissertation, I tested how angle-dependent structural coloration, courtship displays, and the display environment interact and co-evolved in hummingbird species from the “bee” tribe (Mellisugini). Most “bee” hummingbird species possess an angle-dependent structurally colored throat patch and stereotyped courtship (shuttle) display. For 6 U.S. “bee” hummingbird species, I filmed male shuttle displays and mapped out the orientation- and-position-specific movements during the displays. With such display paths, I was able to then recreate each shuttle display in the field by moving plucked feathers from each male in space and time, as if they were naturally displaying, in order to measure each male’s color appearance during their display (i.e. the interactions between male hummingbird plumage, shuttle displays, and environment) from full-spectrum photographs. I tested how these interactions varied intra- and inter-specifically, and which of these originating traits might explain that variation. I first found that the solar-positional environment played a significant role in explaining variation in male color appearance within two species (Selasphorus platycercus and Calypte costae), and that different combinations of color-behavior-environment interactions made some males (in both species) appear bright, colorful, and flashy (i.e. their color appearance changes throughout a display), while other males maintained a consistent (non-flashing) color display. Among species, I found that plumage flashiness positively co-varied with male display behaviors, while another measure of male color appearance (average brightness/colorfulness) co-varied with the feather reflectance characteristics themselves. Additionally, species that had more exaggerated plumage features had less exaggerated shuttle displays. Altogether, my dissertation work illustrates the complexity of multiple signal evolution and how color-behavior-environment interactions are vital to understanding the evolution of colorful and behavioral display traits in animals.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2018

151901-Thumbnail Image.png

Ambient light environment and the evolution of brightness, chroma, and perceived chromaticity in the warning signals of butterflies

Description

ABSTRACT 1. Aposematic signals advertise prey distastefulness or metabolic unprofitability to potential predators and have evolved independently in many prey groups over the course of evolutionary history as a means

ABSTRACT 1. Aposematic signals advertise prey distastefulness or metabolic unprofitability to potential predators and have evolved independently in many prey groups over the course of evolutionary history as a means of protection from predation. Most aposematic signals investigated to date exhibit highly chromatic patterning; however, relatives in these toxic groups with patterns of very low chroma have been largely overlooked. 2. We propose that bright displays with low chroma arose in toxic prey species because they were more effective at deterring predation than were their chromatic counterparts, especially when viewed in relatively low light environments such as forest understories. 3. We analyzed the reflectance and radiance of color patches on the wings of 90 tropical butterfly species that belong to groups with documented toxicity that vary in their habitat preferences to test this prediction: Warning signal chroma and perceived chromaticity are expected to be higher and brightness lower in species that fly in open environments when compared to those that fly in forested environments. 4. Analyses of the reflectance and radiance of warning color patches and predator visual modeling support this prediction. Moreover, phylogenetic tests, which correct for statistical non-independence due to phylogenetic relatedness of test species, also support the hypothesis of an evolutionary correlation between perceived chromaticity of aposematic signals and the flight habits of the butterflies that exhibit these signals.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2013

150734-Thumbnail Image.png

Color and communication in Habronattus jumping spiders: tests of sexual and ecological selection

Description

Differences between males and females can evolve through a variety of mechanisms, including sexual and ecological selection. Because coloration is evolutionarily labile, sexually dichromatic species are good models for understanding

Differences between males and females can evolve through a variety of mechanisms, including sexual and ecological selection. Because coloration is evolutionarily labile, sexually dichromatic species are good models for understanding the evolution of sex differences. While many jumping spiders exhibit diverse and brilliant coloration, they have been notably absent from such studies. In the genus Habronattus, females are drab and cryptic while males are brilliantly colored, displaying some of these colors to females during elaborate courtship dances. Here I test multiple hypotheses for the control and function of male color. In the field, I found that Habronattus males indiscriminately court any female they encounter (including other species), so I first examined the role that colors play in species recognition. I manipulated male colors in H. pyrrithrix and found that while they are not required for species recognition, the presence of red facial coloration improves courtship success, but only if males are courting in the sun. Because light environment affects transmission of color signals, the multi-colored displays of males may facilitate communication in variable and unpredictable environments. Because these colors can be costly to produce and maintain, they also have the potential to signal reliable information about male quality to potential female mates. I found that both red facial and green leg coloration is condition dependent in H. pyrrithrix and thus has the potential to signal quality. Yet, surprisingly, this variation in male color does not appear to be important to females. Males of many Habronattus species also exhibit conspicuous markings on the dorsal surface of their abdomens that are not present in females and are oriented away from females during courtship. In the field, I found that these markings are paired with increased leg-waving behavior in a way that resembles the pattern and behavior of wasps; this may provide protection by exploiting the aversions of predators. My data also suggest that different activity levels between the sexes have placed different selection pressures on their dorsal color patterns. Overall, these findings challenge some of the traditional ways that we think about color signaling and provide novel insights into the evolution of animal coloration.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2012