Monday, September 1, 2014

Nightjar nuances

Here's a fun and easy way to participate in citizen science. The Sensory Ecology Group of the University of Exeter and the Behavioural Ecology Group at the University of Cambridge have teamed up to create an experimental video game that provides more and more data about what makes certain camouflage patterns more successful than others. In the games offered on the Project Nightjar site, the player sees the world through the eyes of the dichromatic mongoose or gernet or the trichromatic vernet monkey. The goal is to find, as quickly as possible, the computer-generated camouflaged eggs of either the Mozambique nightjar, the pennant-winged nightjar, or the fiery-necked nightjar. The more successful egg color schemes are mutated and tried again, evolving to blend better with the environment. The project is proving a success. Notes ecologist Martin Stevens of the University of Exeter, "In total across all populations we’ve tested something like 400,000 individual eggs so far."

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