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A review of the evolution of animal colour vision and visual communication signals.
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-07, 21:45 authored by Daniel Colaco OsorioDaniel Colaco Osorio, M Vorobyev
The visual displays of animals and plants are often colourful, and colour vision allows animals to respond to these signals as they forage for food, choose mates and so-forth. This article discusses the evolutionary relationship between photoreceptor spectral sensitivities of four groups of land animals--birds, butterflies, primates and hymenopteran insects (bees and wasps)--, the colour signals that are relevant to them, and how understanding is informed by models of spectral coding and colour vision. Although the spectral sensitivities of photoreceptors are known to vary adaptively under natural selection there is little evidence that those of hymenopterans, birds and primates are specifically adapted to the reflectance spectra of food plants or animal visual signals. On the other hand, the colours of fruit, flowers and feathers may have evolved to be more discriminable for the colour vision of their natural receivers than for other groups of animals. Butterflies are unusual in that they have enjoyed a major radiation in receptor numbers and spectral sensitivities. The reasons for the radiation and diversity of butterfly colour vision remain unknown, but may include their need to find food plants and to select mates.
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- Evolution, Behaviour and Environment Publications
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