Postgraduate Research Project - University of Sussex

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School of Life Sciences

Project Title: Image spectra in the aquatic environment: the consequences of spectrally absorbing media for colour vision and visual communication.

Supervisor: Dr Daniel Osorio email d.Osorio [at]

Funding: EPSRC January 07 start / BBSRC October 07 start

Project Abstract:

Amongst land animals it is well known that colour is important for object recognition.

Colour signals are robust under variations in illumination and context, and so are useful for identifying material properties.

Colour constancy is refers to the ability to recognize object colour independent of illumination and is associated with a range of physiological mechanisms.

Some of my own work has dealt with problems of colour constancy in natural images, and the demands placed on low-level visual mechanisms.

We know that colour vision is also important for marine animals. Many have multiple types of spectral photoreceptor and they often use colour for communication in courtship displays and many other contexts.

Recently there has been intense interest in the role of colour in mating preferences of African Great-lake Cichlid fish, as colour preferences are thought to have had a major role in their explosive speciation.

However colour constancy in water is a problem, because water is a spectrally selective filter.

In air, to a good first approximation, the spectrum of light reaching the eye depends upon the reflectance of the object and the illumination spectrum.

In water the illumination spectrum varies strongly with depth, and with water quality, and the spectral distribution of reflected light is further modified between the object and the viewer.

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