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Animation meets biology

Animation meets biology

Ctenophorus fionni (Peninsula Dragon).

A team from La Trobe University’s School of Life Sciences, led by Dr Richard Peters, and supported by a 2017 Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Projects grant, has worked with academics from Monash University’s Faculty of IT to create a series of varied environmental settings and weather conditions, comprising different plant environments and wind conditions, to quantify how lizard displays are affected by this variation.

“The use of movement to communicate is common among lizards, but it has been impossible to observe lizard signalling behaviour in every type of ecological setting using traditional methods such as using multiple cameras in the wild,” Dr Peters said.

“Our research team therefore devised an innovative way of combining evolutionary biology with digital arts to create a 3D animation tool that simulates three spatial dimensions plus movement through time.”

Dr Peters said that using animation as a research tool will allow scientists to measure much more accurately the behavioural signals of lizards.

“This exciting development in evolutionary biology opens up all sorts of other possibilities for studying animal behaviour in a range of settings, including in environments affected by climate change and habitat modification,” Dr Peters said.

“Under such circumstances, lizard signals might be more noticeable, therefore making the lizard more vulnerable to predators.” 

Media Issued by La Trobe University.

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