Life at stake when playing hide and seek: Concealing effects of prey colouration and visual backgrounds
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
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.
predation; adaptive prey coloration; camouflage; concealment; crypsis; background matching; disruptive colouration; distractive markings
Research subject Animal Ecology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-30548ISBN: 978-91-7155-959-3OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-30548DiVA: diva2:272903
2009-11-20, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Cuthill, Innes C., Prof
Sami, Merilaita, Dr
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Manuscript. Paper 2: Accepted2009-10-282009-10-182009-10-22Bibliographically approved
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