Out of the blue: The evolution of horizontally polarized signals in Haptosquilla (Crustacea, Stomatopoda, Protosquillidae)

Martin J. How, Megan L. Porter, Andrew N. Radford, Kathryn D. Feller, Shelby E. Temple, Roy L. Caldwell, N. Justin Marshall, Thomas W. Cronin, Nicholas W. Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The polarization of light provides information that is used by many animals for a number of different visually guided behaviours. Several marine species, such as stomatopod crustaceans and cephalopod molluscs, communicate using visual signals that contain polarized information, content that is often part of a more complex multidimensional visual signal. In this work, we investigate the evolution of polarized signals in species of Haptosquilla, a widespread genus of stomatopod, as well as related protosquillids. We present evidence for a pre-existing bias towards horizontally polarized signal content and demonstrate that the properties of the polarization vision system in these animals increase the signal-to-noise ratio of the signal. Combining these results with the increase in efficacy that polarization provides over intensity and hue in a shallow marine environment, we propose a joint framework for the evolution of the polarized form of these complex signals based on both efficacy-driven (proximate) and content-driven (ultimate) selection pressures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3425-3431
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.


  • Mantis shrimp
  • Multi-modal signal
  • Polarization vision
  • Sensory bias
  • Signal evolution
  • Stomatopod


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