Other ongoing projects

Movement ecology of the dyeing poison frog 

Collaborator: Andrius Pašukonis (Stanford 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. Have a look here at our recent paper on tadpole transport, with our collaborator Matthias Loretto! Our long-term plan is to understand how these frogs use space at different temporal and spatial scales, for which we have joined efforts with Matthias and with Max Ringler (University of Vienna) .


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

Evolutionary ecology of human colour perception

Collaborators: Darrell Kemp (Macquarie University, Australia) & Tom White (University of Sydney, 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


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

Collaborators: Beto Rueda and Tatiana Hernández (Herpetology Group, 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, particularly when they display the defensive posture in which they lower their head and raise their back. This is our first step to try and elucidate whether the eyespots in this species work as a deimatic display against predators. Our first results suggest that the coloration used in this display is more important than the posture of the frogs. Keep tuned!


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 (Herpetology Group, University of Magdalena, 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 has already handed in his Bachelors thesis with really interesting results, and will be working on the scientific publication soon!


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