A colorful world: Signaling in mantis shrimp

Amanda Franklin

Tufts University

This project was funded on:
15 September 2013

Mantis shrimp have the most complex vision in the animal kingdom. Most research focuses on how mantis shrimp see what they see, not why. This research aims to discover how their vision is used for signalling and communication between mantis shrimp.


Budget Overview

It is important that I perform my experiments in the field to ensure that the mantis shrimps' behaviors are natural. The species of mantis shrimp that have spectacular vision are only found in tropical waters. Thus, to study their communication, my colleague and I will travel to Belize and set up experiments in the field.

Belize is an ideal location for this project because I have already performed preliminary studies there. This means I know how and where to find my study species and, have knowledge of the field site that will be essential for setting up experiments.

The funding requested for this project will be used to cover return travel for my colleague and I to the Smithsonian Field Station in Belize.The remainder of the requested funds will cover bench fees and research permit fees required for two to work at the field station. This field station provides excellent facilities and equipment for our use.

Stretch goal - $4,540: I am very excited that we have reached the target and it is fantastic to see some extra donations coming it. So I wanted to set a stretch goal and let everyone know the extra money will be put to good use.

Along with the fieldwork component in Belize, I will be doing research in the lab at university. To do this, I need to set up an aquarium system to house mantis shrimp. I currently require 5 aquarium set ups (each costs $120), and 20 shrimp ($150 including shipping). This is a total of $750, and the extra funds will go towards this. Please check out the lab notes to find out about the lab experiments!

Meet the Researcher


I’ve always loved the ocean, and learning about marine science during my undergraduate degree only strengthened this attraction. Since then, I have sought out any opportunity to work in marine science. This has included working in marine departments at Parks Victoria, Museum Victoria and 3CR (community radio) as well as completing a Masters in marine science and animal behavior.

I began my Masters degree in 2010 at the University of Melbourne. Here I designed a research project to investigate costs of mating in the Southern dumpling squid. I discovered that mating is energetically costly and a single mating can reduce female lifespan. This project prepared me for my PhD as it was a behavioral study that involved fieldwork and lab work.

Currently, I am a Fulbright Science and Technology fellow completing my PhD at Tufts University. For my dissertation, I will be researching communication and reproductive behaviors in mantis shrimp. I intend to research this in multiple species of mantis shrimp and investigate different facets of visual communication (e.g. visible light, UV light, polarized light).

For more information, please look at my LinkedIn Profile.

Missed some of the mantis shrimp craze? Check these out:

The Oatmeal: Why the mantis shrimp is my new favorite animal

True Facts About the Mantis Shrimp [Video]

Project Backers

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