Fluorescence as a means of colour signal enhancement.


Journal Article (Review)

Fluorescence is a physico-chemical energy exchange where shorter-wavelength photons are absorbed by a molecule and are re-emitted as longer-wavelength photons. It has been suggested a means of communication in several taxa including flowers, pitcher plants, corals, algae, worms, squid, spiders, stomatopods, fish, reptiles, parrots and humans. The surface or object that the pigment molecule is part of appears to glow due to its setting rather than an actual production of light, and this may enhance both signals and, in some cases, camouflage. This review examines some known uses of fluorescence, mainly in the context of visual communication in animals, the challenge being to distinguish when fluorescence is a functional feature of biological coloration or when it is a by-product of a pigment or other molecule. In general, we conclude that most observations of fluorescence lack enough evidence to suggest they are used in visually driven behaviours.This article is part of the themed issue 'Animal coloration: production, perception, function and application'.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Marshall, J; Johnsen, S

Published Date

  • July 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 372 / 1724

PubMed ID

  • 28533452

Pubmed Central ID

  • 28533452

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1471-2970

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0962-8436

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1098/rstb.2016.0335


  • eng