Other ongoing projects

Evolutionary ecology of human colour perception

Collaborators: Darrell Kemp & Tom White (Macquarie University, Australia), Johanna Mappes (University of Jyväskylä, Finland)

We humans see the world in colour, which helps us detect tasty things to eat (ripe apples and bananas), when to go-versus-stop (traffic lights) and when not to touch (redback spiders). The science and psychology of colour perception comes from controlled lab experiments. Surprisingly, nobody knows precisely how this relates to our experience of colour in the natural world. We are trying to change that by doing a series of simple experiments in which we ask people to find coloured objects in an outdoor setting!

smarties background

‘Smarties background’ Photo: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net

Movement ecology of the dyeing poison frog 

Collaborator: Andrius Pašukonis (Harvard University, USA)

I have recently joined Andrius Pašukonis in this really cool adventure! We are using radio telemetry with miniature senders to understand the movement ecology of dyeing poison frogs in the wild, in relation to their social behaviour, tadpole transport and micro-habitat choice. This has allowed us to follow individuals regularly throughout the day, and for about two weeks, in order to record detailed movement and behavioural data. Our long-term plan is to understand how these frogs use space at different temporal and spatial scales.


Courting pair of D. tinctorius wearing ‘fancy pants’. Photo: A. Pasukonis

Deimatic displays in the Colombian Four-eyed Frog, Pleurodema brachyops

Collaborators: Beto Rueda and Tatiana Hernández (University of Magdalena, Colombia)

It has been long assumed that the eyespots in the back of Pleurodema brachyops, commonly known as the ‘four-eyed frog’, have an antipredator function. However, this hypothesis has not yet been tested experimentally. I have teamed-up with Beto Rueda, and one of his very talented bachelors students at the University of Magdalena (Colombia), Tatiana Hernández, to investigate whether model frogs with these eyespots are less attacked than models without them. This is our first step to try and elucidate whether the eyespots in this species work as a deimatic display against predators.


Colombian four-eyed frog, Pleurodema brachyops. Photo: Beto Rueda

Effects of habitat degradation on tail coloration in the Magdalena river tegu

Collaborators: Beto Rueda and Sintana Rojas (Colombia)

Beto Rueda and another of his great bachelors students, Sintana Rojas, have recently invited me to join a nice little project aimed to investigate whether there are variations in morphological traits (such as colour) between populations of the Magdalena river tegu (Tetrioscincus bifasciatus) that differ in their degree of disturbance. Sintana is currently collecting data in the field!


The Magdalena river Tegu, Tetrioscincus bifasciatus. Photos: Beto Rueda