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Concealed by conspicuousness: distractive prey markings and backgrounds
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Department of Animal Ecology. Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
University of Freiburg, Department of Evolutionary Biology and Animal Ecology.
University of Freiburg, Department of Evolutionary Biology and Animal Ecology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology, Department of Animal Ecology. Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
2009 (English)In: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences, ISSN 0962-8452, E-ISSN 1471-2954, Vol. 276, no 1163, 1905-1910 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

High-contrast markings, called distractive or dazzle markings, have been suggested to draw and hold theattention of a viewer, thus hindering detection or recognition of revealing prey characteristics, such asthe body outline.We tested this hypothesis in a predation experiment with blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) andartificial prey. We also tested whether this idea can be extrapolated to the background appearanceand whether high-contrast markings in the background would improve prey concealment. We comparedsearch times for a high-contrast range prey (HC-P) and a low-contrast range prey (LC-P) in a high-contrastrange background (HC-B) and a low-contrast range background (LC-B). The HC-P was more difficult todetect in both backgrounds, although it did not match the LC-B. Also, both prey types were more difficultto find in the HC-B than in the LC-B, in spite of the mismatch of the LC-P. In addition, the HC-P wasmore difficult to detect, in both backgrounds, when compared with a generalist prey, not mismatchingeither background. Thus, we conclude that distractive prey pattern markings and selection of microhabitatswith distractive features may provide an effective way to improve camouflage. Importantly, high-contrastmarkings, both as part of the prey coloration and in the background, can indeed increase prey concealment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 276, no 1163, 1905-1910 p.
Keyword [en]
crypsis; predation; dazzle; disruptive coloration; camouflage; background matching
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Animal Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-30546DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2009.0052ISI: 000264936500021OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-30546DiVA: diva2:272846
Available from: 2009-10-18 Created: 2009-10-18 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Life at stake when playing hide and seek: Concealing effects of prey colouration and visual backgrounds
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Life at stake when playing hide and seek: Concealing effects of prey colouration and visual backgrounds
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

A prey animal can use different strategies to avoid becoming eaten by predators. One such widely recognised strategy is the use of body colouration to decrease the risk of becoming detected, i.e. cryptic colouration. The principles of crypsis that I have studied are background matching, disruptive colouration and distractive markings. Further, I also studied the concealing effect of the visual background habitats. I used artificial prey items and backgrounds, and blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) as predators, to investigate prey concealment. In Paper I, I tested if high-contrast markings in prey coloration or in the background would result in a distracting effect. I found that such markings did increase prey search time, even when the prey markings were lighter or darker than the background. In Paper II, I studied the use of chromatic cues by predators when searching for prey. The birds easily detected prey that chromatically deviated from its background. Interestingly, background-matching prey was more difficult to detect when the colour scheme had low ultraviolet and high shortwave reflectance compared to when the reflectance bands were even. In Paper III, I studied optimisation of achromatic contrast within prey colour pattern and also the effect of shape diversity of background pattern elements on prey detection. I found that all prey types were more difficult to detect on the diverse background, but the level of contrast within prey pattern did not influence search times. In Paper IV, I further investigated how a prey should optimise its patterning with respect to background matching. I found that prey with repeated pattern elements was equally hard to detect as prey with more variable pattern. However, prey with a spatially regular pattern (aligned pattern elements) was easier to detect than prey with a spatially irregular pattern. In this paper I also found that high complexity of element shapes in the background, made the search task more difficult.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 2009. 34 p.
Keyword
predation; adaptive prey coloration; camouflage; concealment; crypsis; background matching; disruptive colouration; distractive markings
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Animal Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-30548 (URN)978-91-7155-959-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2009-11-20, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Manuscript. Paper 2: AcceptedAvailable from: 2009-10-28 Created: 2009-10-18 Last updated: 2009-10-22Bibliographically approved

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