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Background matching by means of dorsal color change in treefrog populations (Hyla japonica)

Authors

  • Noori Choi,

    1. Department of Systems Biology, Yonsei University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
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  • Yikweon Jang

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Life Sciences and Division of EcoScience, Ewha Womans University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
    • Correspondence to: Yikweon Jang, Department of Life Sciences and Division of EcoScience, Ewha Womans University, Seoul 120-750, Republic of Korea.

      E-mail: jangy@ewha.ac.kr

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  • Conflicts of interest: None.

ABSTRACT

Treefrogs change dorsal coloration to match background colors, presumably for predator avoidance. Dorsal coloration in treefrogs results from rearrangement of pigment granules in dermal chromatophores. This physiological basis for color change suggests that brightness and chroma are the color components that may change in response to background color. However, results of experiments are conflicting in that there is no consensus as to which color component is critical for color change in treefrogs. We tested predictions of the physiological model for color change in treefrogs by investigating dorsal color change under five background colors in three different populations of the treefrog Hyla japonica. Differences in color components between background colors and frogs were used as a measure of background matching. Throughout a 1-week experimental period, brightness and chroma differences decreased monotonically, while hue difference remained constant for all background colors. Chroma differences were smaller with the natural colors such as green and brown than with achromatic colors. Moreover, variation in color change among frogs from three localities that differed in land cover suggested that chroma change capacity may be sensitive to environmental conditions. Under the white background color, however, decreasing brightness difference seemed to be crucial to background matching. Furthermore, chroma difference and brightness difference did not decrease indefinitely, suggesting a trade-off between chroma difference and brightness difference under the white background. Thus, background matching may generally occur by decreasing chroma difference under most background colors in H. japonica, but brightness matching may be important under the white color. J. Exp. Zool. 321A: 108–118, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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