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Worth a Thousand Words

This week’s featured image is taken from a paper by Lars Chittka and colleagues at the Queen Mary, University of London and Imperial College London. In the article entitled, FReD: The Floral Reflectance Database – A Web Portal for Analyses of Flower Colour, the authors have developed a catalog that holds data on what colors flowers appear to be, to bees.

Though bees can see color, they perceive the world differently from us.  Unlike humans, bees have evolved a different color recognition system which allows them to see colors in the ultra-violet range.

The image above is a photo of a Creeping Zinnia (Sanvitalia procumbens). The left side of the photo shows how we would perceive the flower. To the right, the UV shades have been made visible. Bees have the ability to see the two-toned color of these petals.

The authors’ research takes into account the bee’s visual recognition system and the database indexes flower colors based on the pollinator’s point of view. This database includes over 2000 spectral reflectance records from countries like Germany, Norway and Brazil. FReD is free to use and is a valuable resource for scientists who want to make habitat or global comparisons of floral color.

Image by: Klaus Schmitt

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