CamoEvo is a multipurpose camouflage evolution simulator designed for students and researchers to be able to create their own camouflage evolution experiments:
Here you will find the necessary tools and tutorials for running CamoEvo and for creating interactive lessons in evolution and camouflage.
What is CamoEvo?
CamoEvo is a toolbox for ImageJ that allows users to run camouflage evolution experiments; combining current theory on animal pattern generation, modern genetic algorithms and the format of a game to be more easily accessible.
Why we made it?
CamoEvo was created as a platform for showcasing the interactions between habitat structure, evolution and camouflage for people at home, school and university. We wanted CamoEvo to be as accessible as possible, output meaningful data and be easily edited for camouflage research.
What does it feature?
This toolbox consists of three distinct components. i) a customisable decimal-based GA designed for evolving populations of computer-generated images, dubbed ImageGA; ii) a decimal-gene determined pattern generation systems for animals and eggs, and iii) a user-friendly visual search-based psychophysics experiment that uses ImageGA to optimise patterns for camouflage against assigned backgrounds, though it can also be used for conspicuousness.
Experimenters can find instructions for using CamoEvo and ImageGA in the downloads section. We also aim to provide video tutorials in the future.
Education and Outreach
CamoEvo was designed to be used not just for research but also as an educational tool for Undergraduates and Higher Education students. Evolution is one of the most important concepts in modern biology, yet the timescale of it makes running engaging practicals rather difficult. The UI of CamoEvo allows for users to upload their own uncalibrated photos and choose a selection of default targets to evolve. We have also provided practicals with their own sets of background images.
Hancock, G.R.A.*, Troscianko, J. CamoEvo: An open access toolbox for artificial camouflage evolution experiments. EVOLUTION, (2022). https://doi.org/10.1111/evo.14476
Updates and changelogs are listed on our GitHub. Included are prepackaged versions of ImageJ with CamoEvo installed.
Requires ImageJ Version 1.52
UK A-level Bio
In this practical students are introduced to how camouflage is a good example of animal adaptation, as camouflage relies on matching the environment that the animal has evolved within. The students are tasked with evolving toads against one of three different backgrounds (marsh, scrub or leaflitter). The document includes a few questions to ask the students and also provides opportunities for interpreting plots of change in camouflage over time. For more advanced classes, a full breakdown of the camouflage measures used is provided. [DOWNLOAD]
UK Undergraduate Bio
In this practical students are introduced to the concept of camouflage as one of the primary defence strategies for the protection of ground-nesting bird nests from eggs. They are tasked with evolving eggs against provided background images or photos they have taken of natural habitats, then creating a report based on their results. The documents provided give instructions for using CamoEvo, for collecting photos and for exporting the data recorded into R for analysis. A full breakdown of the camouflage measures used is provided.