Synopsis

We know that one of the main reasons why blenny fishes have left water to live on land is to escape predation. We also know that one of the key constraining forces on the evolution of conspicuous ornamentation in these fishes (and many other animals) is predation: predators use conspicuous signals to locate prey in the environment. Taken together, this suggests that the transition onto land from an aquatic environment should have allowed the evolution of more colourful ornamentation in land blennies because they experience less predation.

Aims

In this project, the honours student will use a large library of colour calibrated photographs of many different species of blenny fish—some aquatic, some amphibious, and others still that are terrestrial—to investigate whether there are differences in how colourful fish are depending on the type of habitat in which they live (water vs land). This project is ideal for any student wishing to have the flexibility of a lab based project and who wishes to learn new skills in colour science and evolutionary methods.

Student Benefits

  • A flexible lab based project
  • Learn the methods of studying animal colour
  • Learn how to read and interpret phylogenies
  • Discover how easy to use methods can be used to uncover past evolutionary history from present-day observations