You don’t see what I see

The image above shows a field of bluebells from the perspective of a bee (left) and human (right).

It was created using a new software framework which, the Australian and British developers say, who will improve our ability to analyse complex visual information through the eyes of animals.

“Most animals have completely different visual systems to humans, so for many species, it is unclear how they see complex visual information or colour patterns in nature, and how this drives their behaviour,” says Cedric van den Berg from Australia’ University of Queensland.

With colleagues from UQ and the University of Exeter, UK, van den Berg brought together digital image processing techniques and analytical tools to create the Quantitative Colour Pattern Analysis (QCPA) framework.

It took four years of work, including developing user-guides, tutorials and worked examples of how to use the tools. The result, they say, is easy to use on pretty well any phone or smartphone, and in a range of habitats.

“The flexibility of the framework allows researchers to investigate the colour patterns and natural surroundings of a wide range of organisms, such as insects, birds, fish and flowering plants,” says UQ’s Karen Cheney.

“For example, we can now truly understand the impacts of coral bleaching for camouflaged reef creatures in a new and informative way.”

The development is described in a paper in the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution.

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