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Visual Biology & Mimicry

Motion Mimicry

Most research into animal mimicry has been focused on coloration and morphological features in prey-predator interaction. Motion as a mimic behavior has largely been ignored (Srygley 1999). The limited examples of motion mimicry have focused on Batesian and Müllerian models. For a generalist predator, Srygley (1999) suggests that multiple signals in prey mimicry may lead to increased errors in signal perception. For example, the predatory sabretoothed blenny ( Aspidontus taeniatus ) mimics the cleaner wrasse ( Labroides dimidiatus )* in motion, coloration, and morphology allowing it access to the host fish. Locomoter mimicry (Srygley 1994) is the extension of color pattern to similarity in locomotion between distantly related animals. However, this model neglects to highlight mimicry behavioral patterns that are modeled off the motion of inanimate objects. The direct advantage of mimicry of inanimate objects is immediate deterrence of potential predators. The following footage shows how cryptic coloration** and motion mimicry can be extended to model inanimate objects. The morphologically, coloration and swimming behavior of the ghost pipefish resemble macroalgae proceeded by a sequence that shows a leaf fish that employs a motion behavior similar to benthic detritus.

* See Cleaner Symbioses in the Symbioses section
**See Cryptic Coloration in this section


Credits
Cinematography: Dr. Forest Rohwer
Edited by: Neilan Kuntz
Written by: Neilan Kuntz
Location: Borneo, Malaysia (Sipadan) (2003)

Srygley, R. B. (1994) Locomoter mimicry in butterflies? The associations of positions of centres of mass among groups of mimetic, unprofitable prey. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society London 343(B):44-155

Srygley, R. B. (1999) Incorporating motion into investigation of mimicry. Evolution & Ecology 13:691-708.




Underwater Fluorescence

UV light has a short wavelength and high energy that can be damaging to cells by altering their molecules, proteins, or DNA. Organisms have therefore developed strategies to protect itself from this deleterious wavelength. One proposed strategy is the possession of compounds homologous to green fluorescent proteins (GFP) that are able to capture and dissipate the high energy from the UV light and remit it as non-damaging light at greater wavelength. This effect can be seen by the fluorescent coloration emitted by the coral animal, captured with a camera equipped with a yellow filter when shined with a UV light.





Credits
Cinematography: Dr. Dimitri Deheyn & Neilan Kuntz
Edited by: Neilan Kuntz
Written by: Dr. Dimitri Deheyn
Location: Bocas del Toro, Panama (2005)

Mazel CH et al. (2003) Green-fluorescent proteins in Caribbean corals. Limnology & Oceanography 48(1, part 2) 402-411.

Salih, A, A Laricum, G Cox, M Kühl, O Hoegh-Guldberg(2000) Fluorescent pigments in corals are photoprotective. Nature 408:850-853.

Ugalde JA, BSW Chang, MV Matz (2004) Evolution of coral pigments recreated. Science 305:1433.

Zawada DG, JS Jaffe (2003) Changes in the fluorescence of the Caribbean coral Montastraea faveolata during heat-induced bleaching. Limnology & Oceanography 48(1, part 2): 412-425.




Chromatophore Signaling


Cephalopods, members of the phylum Mollusca, are able to modify body color patterns instantly allowing them to fit environmental cues. Alteration of body pattern is a behavioral adaptation in many organisms, especially in the cuttlefish, which uses them for cryptic coloration* (including countershading behavior**), communicative signaling between conspecifics and agonistic coloration. For example, agonistic behavior between male cuttlefish, Sepia officinalis , adopts a specific body pattern called the Intense Zebra Display (Adamo and Hanlon 1996). Immediate color changes are generated by the retraction and expansion of chromotaphores (review by Messenger 2001). Chromatophores of cephalopods differ from other marine organisms in that they are neuromuscular organs rather than cells and are not hormonally controlled. At the center of the chromatophore organ is a large, elastic sacculus containing either a red, brown, orange or yellow pigment. Each chromatophore is surrounded by a set of radial muscles that are under direct neural control. The body's epidermal pattern can be altered rapidly by contraction of the radial muscles, forcing the pigment towards the surface. Stimulated muscles contract, expanding the chromatophore. While relaxed, the energy stored in the elastic sacculus causes the chromatophore to retract. The following footage shows the instant change in body patterns in the cuttlefish, Sepia officinalis . At the onset of pursuit the cuttlefish displays a defensive/aggressive behavior, instantaneously flashing its body pattern and raising its arms.

Credits
Cinematography: Dr. Forest Rohwer
Edited by: Neilan Kuntz
Written by: Neilan Kuntz
Location: Borneo, Malaysia (Sipadan) (2003)

Adamo, S. A., and R. T., Hanlon (1996) Do cuttlefish (Cephalopoda) signal their intentions to conspecifics during agonisitc encounters. Animal Behavior 52:73-81.

Messenger, J. B. (2001) Cephalopod chromotaphores: neurobiology and natural history. Biological Review 76:473-528.



Aposematic Coloration

Aposematic coloration is the possession of warning signals that advertise dangerous and unpleasant attributes, which are used to deter predators. The conspicuous appearance has been shown to facilitate the learning and maintenance of an avoidance response by potential predators (Gittleman and Harvey 1980). Warning coloration can evolve fairly easily as long as predators are able to correctly identify toxic prey and avoid making errors (Servedio 2000). Hence, a conspicuous form greatly facilitates this learning process. A classic marine example is the brilliant coloration and spectacular form of the lionfish, Pterois volitans. The dorsal spines carry a dangerous toxin that primarily affects the cardiovascular system by lowering the blood pressure to about one to two-thirds depending on the dosage amounts (Saunders and Taylor 1959).
Credits

Cinematography: Dr. Forest Rohwer
Edited by: Neilan Kuntz
Written by: Neilan Kuntz
Location: Borneo, Malaysia (Sipadan) (2003)

Gittleman JL, PH Harvey (1980) Why are distasteful prey not cryptic? Nature 286: 149-150.

Sanders PR, Taylor PB (1959) Venom of the lionfish Pterois volitans. American Journal of Physiology 197: 437-440.

Servedio MR (2000) The effects of predator learning, forgetting, and recognition errors on the evolution of warning coloration. Evolution 54(3) 751-763.