Student Prize Award Abstract
1999 Poster Paper Honorable Mention
A NOVEL METHOD FOR MEASURING ANIMAL COLORATION
Melissa S. Gerald1,2, John Bernstein3 and Roystone Hinkson3. 1Department
of Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, 2Barbados Primate
Research Center and Wildlife Reserve (BPRC & WR), Farley Hill, St. Peter, Barbados,
West Indies, 3University of West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados, West Indies.
Many questions in evolutionary biology depend on measuring animal color variation.
Nevertheless, assigning an objective measure for color remains a fundamental problem for researchers.
Traditional methods for defining color vary with respect to their accuracy and precision.
Furthermore, these methods rely on intra- and inter-observer agreement. As color is typically
variable in nature, researchers may also encounter problems when attempting to assign a color
measure to regions where color is non-uniformly distributed. This may therefore lead to a failure
to detect subtle differences in animal color, which may be biologically meaningful to conspecifics
and predators. We shall present a new and innovative approach for quantifying color, which is
relatively affordable and easy to use. We found that Digital Video Cameras (thereafter DVC) and
Adobe PhotoShopâ, a software application used by graphic artists
for color customization, together provide a tractable and affordable means for obtaining a
replicable and quantitative measure of color. Here, we describe two functions offered by
PhotoShop®, which can help researchers quantify color samples while overcoming the
difficulty in assigning the "best color" to heterogeneous color samples.
The necessary steps, in detail, for obtaining an objective color measure will be outlined.
We shall also offer additional applications of this technology for animal and plant identification
and for monitoring phenological activity, where color represents a defining feature.