Joint organisers: Cedric P. van den Berg, Jolyon Troscianko, Thomas E. White, Devi Stuart-Fox

We are delighted to announce a one-day workshop on the use of spectrophotometry and calibrated digital imaging for modelling animal vision. The workshop will briefly introduce visual modelling and will cover practical exercises using spectrophotometry, calibrated digital imaging, and accompanying software. The workshop will provide training in using the multispectral image calibration and analysis (MICA) toolbox and integrated components such as the quantitative colour pattern analysis (QCPA) framework, and PAVO for using spectrophotometry.

The workshop will take place immediately prior to the 2024 meeting of the International Society of Behavioural Ecology (ISBE) in Melbourne and is open to anyone interested.

Date & time:  29.09.2024 / 9.30am – 17.00pm

Location: University of Melbourne, Parkville campus, specifics TBC


Required equipment and knowledge: Laptop with pre-installed MICA toolbox (Win/Mac OS/Linux), pre-installed R-Software (and R-Studio if you prefer) with PAVO.

Participants interested in learning about PAVO are expected to have basic coding knowledge in R. Basic knowledge of digital photography and spectrophotometry is beneficial.

Cost: AUD $100 / AUD $75 Students (incl. morning tea & lunch)



Workshop abstract

Considering the physiological limitations of non-human visual systems, such as their ability to perceive spectral and spatial contrast, is crucial for studying the ecology and evolution of organismal colouration. For decades, spectrophotometry has provided the basis for modelling animal colour and luminance contrast perception and continues to be a widely used approach in visual ecology. Recently, the PAVO framework (Gruson et al., 2019) has introduced a comprehensive collection of functions to R that allow users to investigate various aspects of organismal colouration using visual modelling and, in combination with digital imaging, colour patterns more broadly. 

Calibrated digital photography is increasingly being used to quantify colour patterns in nature because it provides an easily accessible, reliable and low-cost alternative to spectrophotometry and hyperspectral imaging. Multispectral image data obtained by digital cameras can be used to reliably model the early processing stages of most currently known visual systems spanning ultraviolet (UV) to near-infrared wavelength information. The Multispectral Image Calibration and Analysis toolbox (MICA) (Troscianko & Stevens, 2015 ) has made the know-how of calibrated digital photography available to a broad audience and its most recent addition, the Quantitative Colour Pattern Analysis (QCPA) (van den Berg & Troscianko et al., 2019) has augmented the platform into a comprehensive framework for the analysis of colour patterns in nature.

This workshop will briefly introduce the basic principles of spectrophotometry and calibrated digital photography, followed by practical recommendations for data acquisition. During the second part of the workshop, participants can choose between practical examples using PAVO and practical examples using the MICA toolbox. The workshop will be led by MICA and QCPA developers Jolyon Troscianko (Exeter University, UK) and Cedric van den Berg (Bristol University, UK), as well as PAVO developer Thomas White (University of Sydney, AUS) and is hosted by Devi Stuart-Fox (University of Melbourne, AUS). Participants can bring their own image data and discuss specific questions and challenges at the end of the workshop.

To gain maximum benefit from the workshop, we recommend that participants familiarise themselves with these tools on the official websites ( / prior to the workshop, particularly by reading the publications and looking at general introductions and tutorials (recommended reading: Maia et al., 2019; Stevens et al., 2007; Troscianko and Stevens, 2015; van den Berg et al., 2020).


Maia, R., Gruson, H., Endler, J. A. and White, T. E. (2019). pavo 2: New tools for the spectral and spatial analysis of colour in r. Methods Ecol. Evol. 0–2.

Stevens, M., Parraga, C. A., Cuthill, I. C., Partridge, J. C. and Troscianko, T. S. (2007). Using digital photography to study animal coloration. Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 90, 211–237.

Troscianko, J. and Stevens, M. (2015). Image calibration and analysis toolbox – a free software suite for objectively measuring reflectance, colour and pattern. Methods Ecol. Evol. 6, 1320–1331.

van den Berg, C. P., Troscianko, J., Endler, J. A., Marshall, N. J. and Cheney, K. L. (2020). Quantitative Colour Pattern Analysis (QCPA): A comprehensive framework for the analysis of colour patterns in nature. Methods Ecol. Evol. 11, 316–332.


Preliminary Schedule

  • 9:30 – 10:30 Intro to calibrated digital photography and Spectrophotometry
  • 10:30 – 11:00 Morning Tea
  • 11:00 – 12:00 Intro to calibrating digital cameras, spectrophotometers and data acquisition
  • 12:00 – 13:00 Lunch
  • 13:00 – 14:00 Grp 1:Intro to MICA + QCPA / Grp 2: Intro to PAVO
  • 14:00 – 14:30 Afternoon tea
  • 14.30 -16.30 Grp 1: Working examples for MICA + QCPA / Grp 2: Working examples for PAVO
  • 16:30 – 17:00 General Discussion
Workshop announcement: Modelling animal vision using spectrophotometry and calibrated digital imaging – 29.09.2024 Melbourne (AUS) – REGISTRATION NOW OPEN!
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One thought on “Workshop announcement: Modelling animal vision using spectrophotometry and calibrated digital imaging – 29.09.2024 Melbourne (AUS) – REGISTRATION NOW OPEN!

  • March 28, 2024 at 7:11 am

    I am very happy to hear that such a seminar will be held, and I am very interested in it. Recently, I am conducting research on animal coloration and need to use these methods. Therefore, I really hope to participate in this seminar, but I cannot attend the offline seminar, so I ask the organizer if it is possible to increase the channel for online participation.Thank you !


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