Propagation of Bioluminescent Signals Underwater
Bioluminescence is extremely common in the open ocean and is used
for many purposes including sexual signaling, crypsis, warning,
luring, and blinding. However, despite its importance, little is
known about what these bioluminescent signals look like to various
species, after they have traveled through the water and a given
In collaboration with Curtis Mobley (Sequoia Scientific) and Edith
Widder (Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution), we are currently
modeling the effects of the medium and the visual system on a variety
of bioluminescent patterns using Monte Carlo and Fourier image processing
methods. Some of the questions we would like to answer include:
- how much spatial complexity is preserved over long distances?
- what colors are most useful for bioluminescent "flashlights"?
- how optimal is the placement of photophores for counterillumination?
|Clockwise from upper-left: Ventral surface of
Hatchet fish, Warning display of the mesopelagic scyphozoan
Atolla vanhoeffeni, ventral surface of a myctophid
(lantern) fish, ventral surface of Melanostomias.
Johnsen, S. (2005). The red and the black: Bioluminescence and the color of animals in the deep sea. Integrative and Comparative Biology. (in press)
Johnsen, S., Widder, E. A., Mobley, C. D., and P. J. Herring (2004). Propagation and perception of bioluminescence: factors affecting the success of counterillumination as a cryptic strategy. Biological Bulletin: 207: 1-16.