News Round-Up

Can animals use iridescent colours to communicate?


A new paper from the University of Melbourne reveals how animals use beautiful but unreliable iridescent colours as communication signals. Special adaptations enable animals to control how these shifting colours appear so that they can convey reliable information

The new work now published in Trends in Evolution and Ecology draws together studies from across the animal kingdom to discover how animals control the appearance of iridescent colours in nature.

“Iridescence is tricky to study because the hue that you see depends on the position of the viewer and the direction of light,” said senior author, Dr Amanda Franklin from the School of BioSciences. “That means that iridescent colours change constantly, so it’s hard to see how they can convey reliable information. The number one rule for communication is that the information must be reliable – it’s the same for both animals and humans!” MORE

Header image: Anna’s humming bird (Calypte anna) showing iridescent ‘gorget’ feathers. Credit: Wade Tregaskis.