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

Martin J How, Megan Porter, Andy N Radford, Kathryn Feller, Shelby E Temple, Caldwell R.L., N. Justin Marshall, TW Cronin, Nicholas W Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
357 Downloads (Pure)


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 multi-dimensional 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
Pages (from-to)3425-3431
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Early online date7 Aug 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014


  • stomatopod
  • mantis shrimp
  • polarization vision
  • signal evolution
  • sensory bias
  • multi-modal signal


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