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    Human face recognition in fish

    Our paper on human face recognition in Archerfish was published in Scientific reports. The story was picked up by the media world-wide within hours of publication.
    Read the paper

    media releases:
    News coverage summary:

    Example news reports:
    CNN, Spektrum.de, The Washington Post

    National Geographic

    National Geographic featured a story presented at the Behaviour conference in Cairns August 2015, this led a feature by the Canadian Discovery channel.

    A school of fish might seem like a sea of identical faces, but at least one species has no problem telling its comrades—and even strangers—apart, new research says.
    To human eyes, which cannot see ultraviolet light, the Ambon damselfish (Pomacentrus amboinensis), appears yellow with a few spots. But to damselfish, which can see ultraviolet wavelengths, their fellow species sport a complex array of facial patterns that are unique to each individual.

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    national geographic article


    July 2015 - Graduation of Cait Newport, Chris Braun and Amira Parker

    February 2015 - Cait Newport won a Marie Curie Fellowship to carry out Postdoctoral work at Oxford University! Read more

    July 2014: Graduation of PhD student Sara Van Eyk



    Check out the Octonauts series 2, episode 9! It is based on our research on UV patterns and secret communication “Octonauts and the damselfish”
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    Split division How Archerfish decide

    Article on wired.com featuring the Newport et al. paper on Archerfish decision making.

    When testing the discrimination abilities of an animal, the researcher usually depends upon the animal subjects to make a certain response to indicate their choice. Monkeys can push buttons or move joysticks, pigeons can peck at different keys, rats can press levers. Compared to these common laboratory animals, the behavioral repertoires of most fish might seem limited. But there is one fish that has a unique and reliable method for indicating its response in behavioral tests: the archerfish. The archerfish is a champion spitter. In the wild, they spit well-aimed jets of water to knock insects off vegetation above the water.
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    Fish Use UV Patterns to Tell Species Apart

    Science | Nature Research Highlight (Nature 464, 10, doi: 10.1038/464010a)

    If you’ve seen one damselfish, you’ve seen them all. That may be true for people, who have a difficult time telling some damselfish species apart. But the fish themselves see it differently, according to a study in Current Biology. They can use ultraviolet facial patterns to tell one species from another. Ulrike E. Siebeck of the University of Queensland in Australia and colleagues studied Pomacentrus amboinensis and P. moluccensis, two species of damselfish capable of seeing light at the ultraviolet end of the spectrum. They are also highly territorial: P. amboinensis males, for example, will chase off unfamiliar members of their species because they are seen as competitors, but go easier on P. moluccensis intruders.
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    A damselfish, shown as people see them,
    at left, and through a UV filter, right.

    For Fish in Coral Reefs, It’s Useful to Be Smart

    New York Times Science feature article

    I have long suspected that fish are smarter than we give them credit for. As a child, I had an aquarium with several pet goldfish. They certainly knew it was feeding time when my hand appeared over their tank, and they excitedly awaited their delicious fish flakes. They also exhibited a darker, disturbing behavior. Evidently, a safe life with abundant food was not fulfilling. From time to time, either sheer ennui or the long gray Toledo winter got to one of the fish and it ended its torment with a leap to my bedroom floor. Maybe my anthropomorphizing is a bit over the top. But, really, just how smart are fish? Can they learn?
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    A damselfish selects a target shape in studies
    where wild fish learned to discriminate among colors,
    patterns and shapes, including new ones.

    Feature in a documentary on Colour, ‘Cracking the colour code’

    Electric pictures, ARTE, SBS
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    Island Life

    First part of a six part series ‘Island Life’ portrayed my work on the behavioural role of ultraviolet colours for damselfish; the documentary has been rescreened once a year since its original release.

    - Jan 2001: ABC Island Life – 6 part series: Episode 5
    - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0908563/?ref_=ttfc_fc_tt
    - https://www.offthefence.com/Brand/39/island-life
    - National Library of Australia


  • 2016 Siebeck Visual Neuroethology Lab
    Web design: Diana Kleine – Photos: Uli Siebeck, Maxi Eckes