A new article from the University of Melbourne (United States) reveals how animals use iridescent colors as communication signals. This special adaptation allows animals to control how these changing colors appear so they can convey quality information.
The research, which has been published in the journal Trends in Evolution and Ecology, brings together studies from across the animal kingdom to discover how animals control the appearance of iridescent colors in nature.
“Iridescence is difficult to study because the hue you see depends on the position of the viewer and the direction of the light,” explained Amanda Franklin, a researcher who participated in the study. “That means iridescent colors are constantly changing, so it’s hard to see how they can convey reliable information,” he added.
However, iridescent colors are widespread throughout the planet. Therefore, by studying how animals detect iridescence, it is possible to better understand when it is actually useful information.
“Iridescent cues often come with physical adaptations or behavioral modifications that help the animals control the visual effect. For example, male hummingbirds precisely control their courtship flights so that their iridescent throats appear bright pink for the females “assured the researcher.
Thus, through evolution, animals have adapted microstructures to produce specific effects. In fact, some species use microstructures to control the precise angle at which the iridescent hue changes color. In this way, they control the information they communicate with color.
On the other hand, several studies suggest that iridescent colors are important for courtship or camouflage, although a study rarely analyzes how animals see these striking signs.
The detection of iridescent signals also depends on how the animals display their colors and the physical position of both the emitter and the receiver. For example, an iridescent color can be processed differently if the colors move quickly.
This research sheds light on the world of communication in animals and helps to accurately understand how iridescent colors work within nature. “Understanding how animals use these signals could help the development of iridescent materials for human use,” said the scientist.