Visible (left) and UV (right)

Kittlitz's Plover (Charadrius pecuarius) incubating eggs in South Africa


Closeup of a Fiery-necked nightjar (Caprimulgus pectoralis) in Zambia

I'm currently investigating 'Predator Vision and Avian Egg Camouflage', looking at the types of camouflage that ground nesting birds have evolved to evade the predation of their eggs and chicks. This work uses a range of species, primarily nightjars, plovers and coursers found in Zambia and South Africa.


By modelling the visual systems of different potential predators we can use digital photographs to assess the effectiveness of various camouflage strategies and link this with survival and habitat selection.


My time is spent collecting data in the field with Jared, and further developing the modelling tools we use to process the data with Martin. This work is in collaboration with Dr Claire Spottiswoode in Cambridge. I have also developed motion-triggered video cameras to catch natural predation events in order to determine what the birds' main predators really are.


I have developed a suite of methodologies and software plugins that allow us to use digital photography to model the world through the eyes of other animals. This is illustrated in the photo of an iris (above), which I photographed in visible and ultraviolet light. The photo can then be converted to "cone-catch" images that show how the colour receptors of other species would see the iris.


I create all my software plugins using ImageJ, a free and open source image processing platform.

These images highlight some of the image analysis methods we can use to investigate colour and pattern.

Above: Can you spot the Fiery-necked nightjar (Caprimulgus pectoralis)?


Prior to my sensory ecology work in Cambridge University and Exeter University (Cornwall campus) I completed my PhD at Birmingham University, researching ecological, behavioural and morphological aspects of tool-use in New Caledonian crows (Corvus moneduloides).






Troscianko, J., and Stevens, M. 2015. Image Calibration and Analysis Toolbox – a free software suite for objectively measuring reflectance, colour and pattern. Methods Ecology and Evolution.


Burriss, R.P., Troscianko, J., Lovell, P.G., Fulford, A.J.C., Stevens, M., Quigley, R., Payne, J., Saxton, T.K., and Rowland, H.M. 2015. Changes in Women’s Facial Skin Color over the Ovulatory Cycle are Not Detectable by the Human Visual System. PLoS ONE 10, e0130093.


Feeney, W.E., Troscianko, J., Langmore, N.E., & Spottiswoode, C.N. 2015. Evidence for aggressive mimicry in an adult brood parasitic bird, and generalized defences in its host. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 282, 20150795.


Hughes, A. E., Troscianko, J., & Stevens, M. 2014. Motion Dazzle and the Effects of Target Patterning on Capture Success. BMC Evolutionary Biology 14 (1): 201. doi:10.1186/s12862-014-0201-4.


Troscianko, J. 2014. A Simple Tool for Calculating Egg Shape, Volume and Surface Area from Digital Images. Ibis 156 (4): 874–878. doi:10.1111/ibi.12177


Arenas, L.M., Troscianko, J., Stevens, M. 2014. Color contrast and stability as key elements for effective warning signals. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 2:25. doi: 10.3389.


Troscianko, J., Lown, A.E., Hughes, A.E., & Stevens, M. 2013. ‘Defeating Crypsis: Detection and Learning of Camouflage Strategies’. PloS One 8, no. 9: e73733.


Stevens, M., Troscianko, J., & Spottiswoode, C.N. 2013. ‘Repeated Targeting of the Same Hosts by a Brood Parasite Compromises Host Egg Rejection’. Nature Communications .


Stevens, M., Marshall, K.L.A., Troscianko, J., Finlay, S., Burnand, D. & Chadwick, S.L. 2013. Revealed by conspicuousness: distractive markings reduce camouflage. Behavioural Ecology. 4: 213-222.


Rutz, C. & Troscianko, J. 2012. Programmable, miniature video-loggers for deployment on wild birds and other wildlife. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. 4: 114–122.


Troscianko, J., von Bayern, A.M.P., Chappell, J., Rutz, C. & Martin, G.R. 2012. Extreme binocular vision and a straight bill facilitate tool use in New Caledonian crows. Nature communications. 3: 1110.


Rutz, C., Bluff, L.A., Reed, N., Troscianko, J., Newton, J., Inger, R., Kacelnik, A. & Bearhop, S. 2010. The ecological significance of tool use in New Caledonian crows. Science. 329: 1523-1526.


Bluff, L. A., Troscianko, J., Weir, A. A. S., Kacelnik, A. & Rutz, C. 2010. Tool use by wild New Caledonian crows Corvus moneduloides at natural foraging sites. Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series B. 277: 1377-1385.


Takahashi, T., McDougall, C., Troscianko, J., Chen, W. C., Jayaraman-Nagarajan, A., Shimeld, S. M. & Ferrier, D. E. K. 2009. An EST screen from the annelid Pomatoceros lamarckii reveals patterns of gene loss and gain in animals. BMC Evolutionary Biology. 9: 240.


Troscianko, J., Bluff, L. A. & Rutz, C. 2008. Grass-stem tool use in New Caledonian Crows Corvus moneduloides. Ardea. 96: 283-285.


Lovell, P. G., Tolhurst, D. J., Parraga, C. A., Baddeley, R., Leonards, U. & Troscianko, J. 2005. Stability of the color-opponent signals under changes of illuminant in natural scenes. Journal of the Optical Society of America, A. 22: 2060-2071.


Lovell, P. G., Tolhurst, D. J., Parraga, C. A., Baddeley, R. J., Leonards, U., Troscianko, J. & Troscianko, T. 2005. Opponent channel responses to changes in the illuminant of natural scenes for primates and birds. Perception 34: 59.


Troscianko, T., Parraga, C. A., Leonards, U., Baddeley, R. J., Troscianko, J. & Tolhurst, D. J. 2003. Leaves, fruit, shadows, and lighting in kibale forest, Uganda. Perception 32: 51.


Parraga, C.A., Troscianko, T., Trosciank, J., Tolhurst, D.J., & Leonards, U 2003. ‘Spatiochromatic Properties of Images of Fruits and Leaves from Kibale Forest, Uganda’. Journal of Vision 3, no. 9: 315–315.



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