A review of cuttlefish camouflage and object recognition and evidence for depth perception

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2008
Authors:E. J. Kelman, Osorio, D., Baddeley, R. J.
Journal:Journal of Experimental Biology
Date Published:Jun
Type of Article:Review
ISBN Number:0022-0949
Accession Number:ISI:000256069200015
Keywords:adaptive coloration, Behaviour, body patterns, camouflage, Cephalopod, contrast, cuttlefish, disruptive coloration, model, PIGEONS, SEPIA-OFFICINALIS, Texture, vision, VISUAL-PERCEPTION

Cuttlefishes of the genus Sepia produce adaptive camouflage by regulating the expression of visual features such as spots and lines, and textures including stipples and stripes. They produce the appropriate pattern for a given environment by co-ordinated expression of about 40 of these 'chromatic components'. This behaviour has great flexibility, allowing the animals to produce a very large number of patterns, and hence gives unique access to cuttlefish visual perception. We have, for instance, tested their sensitivity to image parameters including spatial frequency, orientation and spatial phase. One can also ask what features in the visual environment elicit a given coloration pattern; here most work has been on the disruptive body pattern, which includes well-defined light and dark features. On 2-D backgrounds, isolated pale objects of a specific size, that have well-defined edges, elicit the disruptive pattern. Here we show that visual depth is also relevant. Naturally, cuttlefish probably use the disruptive pattern amongst discrete objects, such as pebbles. We suggest that they use several visual cues to 'identify' this type of background (including: edges, contrast, size, and real and pictorial depth). To conclude we argue that the visual strategy cuttlefish use to select camouflage is fundamentally similar to human object recognition.

Alternate Journal:J. Exp. Biol.
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith