Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Conspicuous Social Signaling Drives Evolution Of Chameleon Color Change

Date:
February 3, 2008
Source:
PLoS Biology
Summary:
In dwarf chameleons, evolutionary shifts in the capacity for color change are associated with increasingly conspicuous signals used in contests and courtship rather than by the need to match different backgrounds.

Male South African dwarf chameleons signal their dominance with conspicuous colours, emphasised during displays. The photo shows a Knysna dwarf chameleon (Bradypodion damaranum) displaying a combination of visible greens and ultraviolet greens, which appear similar to the human eye but very different to chameleons.
Credit: Photograph by A. Moussalli, Museum Victoria, Australia, and D. Stuart-Fox, University of Melbourne, Australia

What drove the evolution of color change in chameleons? Chameleons can use color change to camouflage and to signal to other chameleons, but a new paper shows that the need to rapidly signal to other chameleons, and not the need to camouflage from predators, has driven the evolution of this characteristic trait.

The research, conducted by Devi Stuart-Fox and Adnan Moussalli, shows that the dramatic color changes of chameleons are tailored to aggressively display to conspecific competitors and to seduce potential mates. Because these signals are quick--chameleons can change color in a matter of milliseconds--the animal can afford to make it obvious, as the risk that a predator will notice is limited.

This finding means that the evolution of color change serves to make chameleons more noticeable, the complete opposite of the camouflage hypothesis. The amount of color change possible varies between species, and the authors cleverly capitalise on this in their experiments.

Stuart-Fox and Moussalli measured color change by setting up chameleon "duels": sitting two males on a branch opposite each other and measuring the color variation.

By comparing species that can change color dramatically to those that only change slightly, and considering the evolutionary interrelationships of the species, the researchers showed that dramatic color change is consistently associated with the use of color change as a social signal to other chameleons. The degree of change is not predicted by the amount of color variation in the chameleons' habitat, as would be expected if chameleons had evolved such remarkable color changing abilities in order to camouflage.

Citation: Stuart-Fox D, Moussalli A (2008) Selection for social signalling drives the evolution of chameleon colour change. PLoS Biol 6(1): e25. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio. 0060025


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by PLoS Biology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

PLoS Biology. "Conspicuous Social Signaling Drives Evolution Of Chameleon Color Change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 February 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080129125524.htm>.
PLoS Biology. (2008, February 3). Conspicuous Social Signaling Drives Evolution Of Chameleon Color Change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080129125524.htm
PLoS Biology. "Conspicuous Social Signaling Drives Evolution Of Chameleon Color Change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080129125524.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins