The function and mechanisms of animal defensive coloration

   School of Biological Sciences

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  Prof I Cuthill  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

“The colours of many animals seem adapted to their purposes of concealing themselves, either to avoid danger, or to spring upon their prey.” Darwin, E. (1794) Zoonomia,; p.50

Writing some 15 years before his grandson Charles was even born, Erasmus Darwin was using animal camouflage to illustrate apparent design in nature. However, it is only now, over two centuries later, that we are starting to really understand how different forms of animal defensive coloration -- camouflage, warning signals, mimicry, startle displays -- work. For example, camouflage is not merely about being the same colour as the background, it is really an adaption to the perception and cognition of the species being deceived. As a result, most of my work is strongly interdisciplinary, collaborating closely with perceptual psychologists and computational neuroscientists to develop and tests models of animal colour vision and animal coloration. My students' research typically involves fieldwork, lab experiments, computational modelling, and the species studied range from insects to birds, fish to frogs, and mammals including humans. I encourage all my research students to adopt multiple approaches and learn diverse techniques, as a broad interdisciplinary training is not only a boost to employability, it is often the best way to solve problems in science. If you are interested in explaining animals look and behave the way they do, contact me to discuss possible research projects.

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Biological Sciences (4)

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 About the Project