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Dr Martin J HowBA (Oxon), MSc, PhD

Royal Society University Research Fellow

Martin How

Dr Martin J HowBA (Oxon), MSc, PhD

Royal Society University Research Fellow

Member of

Research interests

Animal vision is often very different from our own. As humans, we can become complacent about the level of visual information around us, assuming that what we see is all that there is. However, the more that we understand about animal vision, the more that we must recognise the different ways that animals view their world. Stepping out of our own sensory realm to try to understand how different species sense their own environments represents an exciting challenge to science and is a field that I find deeply fascinating.

I have spent my career trying to see the world from the perspective of invertebrates. For my PhD I studied the visually guided behaviour of fiddler crabs at the Australian National University by filming and processing natural scenes of signalling fiddler crabs from a crab’s perspective. I then studied the
communication signals of the giant cuttlefish, which uses chromatophore organs to produce moving body patterns. I subsequently moved to the University of Queensland (UQ) to investigate the remarkable visual system of mantis shrimps. These crustaceans possess one of the most complex eyes in the natural world,
with 12 different colour receptors and at least 6 different polarization channels. Here, I contributed to the ground-breaking discovery that these animals use a serial colour vision system unlike any known in nature (Science 343:411-413). In recent years I have become fascinated by why some animals have opted to use
the polarization of light instead of colour. My recent work has shown that some species of crustacean use a sensitive polarization vision system instead of colour. This is a new and exciting field of visual ecology offering multiple avenues of research at the anatomical, physiological, behavioural and ecological scales.
Furthermore, we are now beginning to identify a number of biologically inspired technological applications for these findings in the fields of neuroscience, medicine, material science, sensor design, and image processing.

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Postal address:
Life Sciences Building
24 Tyndall Avenue
Bristol
United Kingdom

Selected research outputs

  1. Published

    Target detection is enhanced by polarization vision in a fiddler crab

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Published

    A different form of color vision in mantis shrimp

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Published
  4. Published

    Null point of discrimination in crustacean polarisation vision

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. Published

    Circularly Polarized Light as a Communication Signal in Mantis Shrimps

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  6. Published

    High-resolution polarisation vision in a cuttlefish

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  7. Published

    Motion camouflage induced by zebra stripes

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

View all (34) »