Disruptive body patterning of cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) requires visual information regarding edges and contrast of objects in natural substrate backgrounds
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Cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis Linnaeus, 1758) on mixed light and dark gravel show disruptive body patterns for camouflage. This response is evoked when the size of the gravel is equivalent to the area of the "White square," a component of its dorsal mantle patterns. However, the features of natural substrates that cuttlefish cue on visually are largely unknown. Therefore, we aimed to identify those visual features of background objects that are required to evoke disruptive coloration. At first, we put young cuttlefish in a circular experimental arena, presented them with natural gravel and photographs of natural gravel, and established that the animals would show a disruptive pattern when presented either with three-dimensional natural gravel or its two-dimensional photographic representation. We then manipulated the digital photographs by applying (i) a low-pass filter to remove the edges of the fragments of gravel, and (ii) a high-pass filter to remove the contrast among them. The body patterns produced by the cuttlefish in response to these altered visual stimuli were then video-recorded and graded. The results show that, to evoke disruptive coloration in cuttlefish, visual information about the edges and contrast of objects within natural substrate backgrounds is required.
Author Posting. © Marine Biological Laboratory, 2005. This article is posted here by permission of Marine Biological Laboratory for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Biological Bulletin 208 (2005): 7-11.