The evolution of colouration in an adaptive radiation of frogs.

  • Van Bocxlaer, Ines, (Administrative Promotor)
  • Bossuyt, Franky (Collaborator)
  • Nicolaï, Michaël, (Mandate)

Project Details


There is increasing evidence that male anurans (frogs and toads) not only attract mating partners by their call, but also use their colours to court females at closer distance. However, colouration patterns have received relatively little attention and remained a largely unexplored domain. Anuran evolutionary history is characterized by multiple adaptive radiations, and several of those produced strikingly similar ecomorphs, often of nearly identical colouration, on different continents. The aim of this project is to investigate how colouration patterns evolved in such an adaptive radiation (Ranoidea), and which of those became potentially relevant for visual sexual communication. The colouration of different ecomorphs will be characterized using spectrophotometry and hyperspectral imaging, and patterns will be compared in different body parts of both sexes, inside and outside the breeding season. The spectral characteristics, structure and distribution of pigments responsible for these patterns will be analysed using chemical analyses, transmission electron microscopy and spectrophotometry. In parallel, whole transcriptome analyses of relevant skin fragments will be used to create expression profiles and study the evolution of the genetic pathways underlying colour variation. Finally, all information at the phenotypic, cellular and molecular level will be integrated in phylogenetic analyses to understand how colouration evolved in an adaptive radiation.
Effective start/end date1/10/171/01/18


  • biology
  • colouration

Flemish discipline codes

  • Bio-informatics and computational biology not elsewhere classified