Modelling colour constancy in fish: implications for vision and signalling in water

Wilkins, Lucas, Marshall, N. Justin, Johnsen, Sonke and Osorio, D. (2016) Modelling colour constancy in fish: implications for vision and signalling in water. Journal of Experimental Biology, 219 12: 1884-1892. doi:10.1242/jeb.139147

Author Wilkins, Lucas
Marshall, N. Justin
Johnsen, Sonke
Osorio, D.
Title Modelling colour constancy in fish: implications for vision and signalling in water
Journal name Journal of Experimental Biology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0022-0949
Publication date 2016-06-15
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1242/jeb.139147
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 219
Issue 12
Start page 1884
End page 1892
Total pages 9
Place of publication Cambridge, United Kingdom
Publisher The Company of Biologists
Collection year 2017
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Colour vision and colour signals are important to aquatic animals, but light scattering and absorption by water distorts spectral stimuli. To investigate the performance of colour vision in water, and to suggest how photoreceptor spectral sensitivities and body colours might evolve for visual communication, we model the effects of changes in viewing distance and depth on the appearance of fish colours for three teleosts: a barracuda, Sphyraena helleri, which is dichromatic and two damselfishes, Chromis verater and Chromis hanui, which are trichromatic. We assume that photoreceptors light-adapt to the background, thereby implementing the von Kries transformation, which can largely account for observed colour constancy in humans and other animals, including fish. This transformation does not, however, compensate for light scattering over variable viewing distances, which in less than a metre seriously impairs dichromatic colour vision, and makes judgement of colour saturation unreliable for trichromats. The von Kries transformation does substantially offset colour shifts caused by changing depth, so that from depths of 0 to 30 m modelled colour changes (i.e. failures of colour constancy) are sometimes negligible. However, the magnitudes and directions of remaining changes are complex, depending upon the specific spectral sensitivities of the receptors and the reflectance spectra. This predicts that when judgement of colour is important, the spectra of signalling colours and photoreceptor spectral sensitivities should be evolutionarily linked, with the colours dependent on photoreceptor spectral sensitivities, and vice versa.
Keyword Colour
Colour constancy
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
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Queensland Brain Institute Publications
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