University of Jyväskylä

The Biology of Color – On the threshold of a new era

In the last 20 years, the field of animal coloration research has experienced explosive growth thanks to numerous technological advances, and it now stands on the threshold of a new era.

Professor Johanna Mappes from Department of Biological and Environmental Science at the University of Jyväskylä participated in international and multidisciplinary collaboration with 27 researchers in a review article "The biology of color". The authors of the wide-ranging and comprehensive review include behavioral ecologists, psychologists, optical physicists, visual physiologists, geneticists, anthropologists and evolutionary biologists.

Visions of life

Coloration is a vitally important biological trait because it is involved with individual survival and with reproduction through camouflage, warning coloration, mate choice, social signaling, thwarting parasitism and thermoregulation. Recent technological advances affecting the field include spectrophotometry, digital imaging, innovative laboratory and field studies, and large-scale comparative analyses.

We now recognize that other organisms see the world differently.<br /> Photo: Bibiana Rojas

Researchers know that animals are able to see and produce colors that humans cannot, specifically in the ultraviolet and infrared zone, but until recently they were not able to view the world as animals themselves see it. Scientists showed that we are starting to understand how animals produce color and integrate information about it, and what implications that has for evolution.

The research was published in the journal Science on 3rd of August, 2017.

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