Now You See Me, Now You Don’t: Colorful Strategies for Surviving in Nature

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by Dr. Molly Cummings, Professor of Ecology & Evolution, University of Texas at Austin

What is the lecture about?

Animals often display fascinating colors to help show or hide themselves. Dr. Molly Cummings will examine the visual mechanisms animals use to avoid being eaten or to advertise for mates. She will provide vivid examples from creatures in the ocean and the jungle. She will discuss some of the evolutionary forces shaping signals used for sexual selection (intraspecific traits) as well as those designed by natural selection (aposematic traits) across a broad taxonomic range including poison frogs, fishes (marine and freshwater), damselflies, and scarab beetles.

Presenter’s Biosketch


Molly Cummings Ph.D., is a professor at UT-Austin. Her research examines how communication traits evolve in animals, using fieldwork and behavior experiments to discover what drives such communication. She has initiated studies examining how animals achieve crypsis in dynamically changing aquatic environments at a molecular level, and with particular emphasis on the polarized light field.  Her lab is also developing experimental techniques to characterize real-time dynamic camouflage in the lab and field as well as identify the internal coordination of the cells involved in orchestrating camouflage(melanophores, chromatophores and iridophores) along with the neural control of their movements.


Location: Schedule: Friday, November 22, 2013 Directions:
UT Campus, Welch Hall (WEL) Auditorium  5:45-7pm: Pre-lecture Fair
7-8:15pm: Lecture
Welch Hall (WEL) is located on the southwest corner of the intersection Speedway and 24th streets, on the UT campus in Austin, Texas. Click here for a parking map and other details.

Further Resources


Teaching Curriculum (PDF format)

Grades Resource Type Title TEKS
9-12 Lesson Plan Peek-A-Boo In the Ocean Blue  §112.31 Aquatic Science: 9C, 10B; Chemistry 6B
9-12 Lesson Plan Early Science: Posing the Right Research Questions

Early Science: Posing the Right Research Questions (Worksheet)

§112.34 Biology: 2E, 2C, 2D