Colour change is a common process shaping animal appearance and promoting camouflage in nature. However, the relationship between colour plasticity and camouflage in the reduction of predation risks, as well as the selective pressures and the evolutionary mechanisms involved, are normally explored in a few taxonomic groups. Benthic crustaceans are interesting biological models to answer these pending questions, since they exhibit considerable intra and interspecific colour variation and inhabit a diversity of habitats, possibly requiring distinct camouflage strategies. In this proposal, I will explore three main questions related to camouflage through colour change using benthic crabs and prawns as biological models: (i) how camouflage and colour change vary among crabs living on different coastal habitats, possibly requiring different camouflage strategies? (ii) how different levels of predation pressure over macroalgal banks affect coloration and camouflage of two algal-dwelling crustacean species? (iii) how colour change can be important for camouflage adjustment and survival of algal-dwelling prawns? Here, I will use a combination of field sampling and experiments, both in the field and laboratory, as well as methods of image analysis and visual modelling to answer those questions. The present project has the potential to instigate a more integrated understanding on the ecological and evolutionary consequences of colour change, as a means for camouflage, in natural systems.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: