Carleton Researcher Co-authors New Article Exploring the Biology of Color

Carleton University’s Tom Sherratt, professor in the Department of Biology, has co-authored a new article on the biology of colour, published in Science magazine.

To view the article visit: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/357/6350/eaan0221

Coloration is an important trait in individual survival and reproduction involving camouflage, warning coloration, mate choice, social signaling, thwarting parasitism, as well as thermoregulation.

“In recent decades, we have gained a better understanding of the genetic mechanisms that create colours and how they are perceived,” said Sherratt. “However to fully understand colouration, you also need to understand why it evolved. Perhaps the most exciting part of our collaboration is the synergy between researchers concerned with understanding the mechanisms underlying colour and colour vision, and researchers interested in understanding its adaptive significance.”

The researchers recognize that other organisms see the world differently from humans. They understand the mechanisms underlying color production, and studies of function have advanced through field and lab experiments. These experiments are also shedding light on the evolutionary processes involved. Questions can now be asked about the evolution of camouflage, based on what a prey’s main predator can see. Knowledge of production, perception and function of coloration may soon contribute to medicine, security, clothing and the military.

This article is a comprehensive review from a group of evolutionary biologists, behavioral ecologists, psychologists, optical physicists, visual physiologists, geneticists and anthropologists investigating this diverse area of science and setting out what they believe are the key questions for the future.

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