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Data from: Stomatopods detect and assess achromatic cues in contests

Cite this dataset

Franklin, Amanda M.; Applegate, Matthew B.; Lewis, Sara M.; Omenetto, Fiorenzo G. (2017). Data from: Stomatopods detect and assess achromatic cues in contests [Dataset]. Dryad.


Conspicuous, colorful displays are often used by animals to communicate within and between species. Previously, researchers have manipulated specific components of color signals (i.e., hue, total reflectance, and/or chroma) using paints, photographs, videos, or filters. However, these manipulations may not adequately mimic the spectrum of color signals outside the range of human perception. Thus, these methods are inappropriate for organisms with unconventional visual systems, such as stomatopods (mantis shrimp). Here, we describe a novel application of a femtosecond laser to increase total reflectance of the stomatopod meral spot, a distinct area on the raptorial appendage used in territorial contests. Ultrafast lasers provide a programmable way to precisely manipulate patch total reflectance of live stomatopods without causing collateral damage. We tested how experimentally increasing meral spot reflectance impacted receiver behavior during territorial contests. Contests in which receiver stomatopods faced an opponent with a lightened meral spot were shorter and receivers showed increased rates of agonistic behaviors. This result suggests that lighter meral spots indicate lower fighting ability; thus, receivers are more willing to engage in a contest. This research provides the first demonstration that stomatopods can detect and assess achromatic variation in contests. Furthermore, we demonstrate that ultrafast lasers provide a powerful tool to investigate achromatic signaling, particularly for organisms whose size, aquatic habitat, or visual system otherwise prevent realistic alterations to color signals (e.g., butterflies, jumping spiders, or decapod crustaceans). This study advances our knowledge about stomatopod visual communication and offers a valuable tool for future research.

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