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Participants: Prof. John A .Endler (PI); Dr. Andreas Swensson
Aims and background: During foraging, animals pick up carotenoids in the diet and many species use these carotenoids as visual signals. For example, guppies pick up carotenoids and use them in the production of orange spots which are valuable in mating success. A long term experiment exposes large guppy populations to very different ambient light enviornments and these cause divergent communities of diatoms and other algae to grow, and hence, divergence in the kinds of carotenoids available to the guppies. The aim is to ask whether or not guppies selectively feed on particular locally available carotenoid mixtures which maximize their visual contrast under the local light conditions.
Scientific significance and innovation: Although it is well known that carotenoids are important in visual signalling, nothing is known about the role of foraging choices in carotenoid uptake, so this will be the first investigation of how animals can make choices which directly affect their signal quality. Potential national benefit and strategic alignment with the aims of the
CIE: This will advance our fundamental understanding of the evolution of animal communication as well as the interaction between foraging modes and signalling. It combines behavioural ecology, evolutionary biology, evolutinary cology, foraging ecology, biophysics/biomechanics, and animal physiology. The putative integrative nature of this project is central to the aims of the CIE.