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Adapting to a changing world: how variability in predation risk and in the availability of new habitats affect colour change and camouflage in chameleon prawns (Hippolyte varians)?

Grant number: 22/00946-0
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Post-doctor
Effective date (Start): June 27, 2022
Effective date (End): June 26, 2023
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology - Applied Ecology
Principal Investigator:Gustavo Muniz Dias
Grantee:Rafael Campos Duarte
Supervisor: Martin Stevens
Host Institution: Centro de Ciências Naturais e Humanas (CCNH). Universidade Federal do ABC (UFABC). Ministério da Educação (Brasil). Santo André , SP, Brazil
Research place: University of Exeter, Penryn, England  
Associated to the scholarship:19/01934-3 - Colour change and camouflage in coastal benthic crustaceans: occurrence, selective pressures and ecological function, BP.PD

Abstract

Many animals are able to change colour over different timescales to camouflage against variable backgrounds, allowing them to cope with spatial and temporal uncertainty on the availability of substrates. However, while colour change is known to improve prey's concealment and reduce detection by visual predators, little is known about how this relationship is affected by different anthropogenic impacts, such as the introduction of non-native species, and by different predation risks. This BEPE project consists of a 12-month internship at the Centre for Ecology and Conservation in the University of Exeter, Penry Campus, United Kingdom, under the supervision of Prof. Martin Stevens. I will use chameleon prawns (Hippolyte varians), an algal-dwelling species capable to change colour to conceal against different seaweeds, and methods of image analysis and visual modelling to test through laboratory experiments how the presence of exotic seaweeds and different predator cues (visual and chemical) affect the capacity of prawns to change colour. Moreover, I will benefit from Prof. Stevens expertise on image and visual analysis, including the programming of citizen-science games, to develop an online computer game, using human players as predators, to test how prawn survival is directly affected by their ability to differentially conceal against several seaweed species. The results obtained during this internship will add to those I'm already obtaining in Brazil about colour change and camouflage in coastal benthic crustaceans, which will make a major contribution to the still incipient areas of behavioural and sensory ecology in my home country. (AU)

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