Colour patterns and their visual backgrounds consist of a mosaic of patches that vary in colour, brightness, size, shape and position. Most studies of crypsis, aposematism, sexual selection, or other forms of signalling concentrate on one or two patch classes (colours), either ignoring the rest of the colour pattern, or analysing the patches separately. We summarize methods of comparing colour patterns making use of known properties of bird eyes. The methods are easily modifiable for other animal visual systems. We present a new statistical method to compare entire colour patterns rather than comparing multiple pairs of patches. Unlike previous methods, the new method detects differences in the relationships among the colours, not just differences in colours. We present tests of the method's ability to detect a variety of kinds of differences between natural colour patterns and provide suggestions for analysis.
Field of Research
059999 Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified