Colour and pattern change against visually heterogeneous backgrounds in the tree frog Hyla japonica

Changku Kang, Ye Eun Kim, Yikweon Jang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations

Abstract

Colour change in animals can be adaptive phenotypic plasticity in heterogeneous environments. Camouflage through background colour matching has been considered a primary force that drives the evolution of colour changing ability. However, the mechanism to which animals change their colour and patterns under visually heterogeneous backgrounds (i.e. consisting of more than one colour) has only been identified in limited taxa. Here, we investigated the colour change process of the Japanese tree frog (Hyla japonica) against patterned backgrounds and elucidated how the expression of dorsal patterns changes against various achromatic/chromatic backgrounds with/without patterns. Our main findings are i) frogs primarily responded to the achromatic differences in background, ii) their contrasting dorsal patterns were conditionally expressed dependent on the brightness of backgrounds, iii) against mixed coloured background, frogs adopted intermediate forms between two colours. Using predator (avian and snake) vision models, we determined that colour differences against different backgrounds yielded perceptible changes in dorsal colours. We also found substantial individual variation in colour changing ability and the levels of dorsal pattern expression between individuals. We discuss the possibility of correlational selection on colour changing ability and resting behaviour that maintains the high variation in colour changing ability within population.

Original languageEnglish
Article number22601
JournalScientific Reports
Volume6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2 Mar 2016

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Colour and pattern change against visually heterogeneous backgrounds in the tree frog Hyla japonica'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this