A ground-breaking study has confirmed the long held assumption that camouflage protects animals from the clutches of predators
Date:January 29, 2016
Source:University of Exeter
A ground-breaking study has confirmed the long held assumption that camouflage protects animals from the clutches of predators, and offers insights into the most important aspects of camouflage.
The research, by scientists from the Universities of Exeter and Cambridge, investigated the camouflage of ground-nesting birds in Zambia, using sophisticated digital imaging to demonstrate how they would appear from the perspective of a predator.
The team found that animals or eggs that matched the pattern or contrast of the surrounding landscape were less likely to be eaten by their natural predators.
The study is published in leading journal Scientific Reports on Friday, January 29 2016.
Dr Jolyon Troscianko, lead author of the paper from the University of Exeter's Centre for Ecology and Conservation department said: "We know that animal camouflage has evolved over millions of years to help prey evade being seen by predators - it is a classic example of natural selection.
"Yet although it may seem obvious that blending into your background makes you less likely to be seen, it is surprisingly difficult to test this in a natural setting.
"This is partly because very well camouflaged animals are of course difficult to find in the wild, and also because they tend to keep moving around, meaning the match between their own appearance and their background is constantly changing. In addition we had determine which predators were eating the nests so that we could take into account their different visual systems."
Martin Stevens from Exeter University who, along with Claire Spottiswoode from the University of Cambridge, co-led the project said: "Despite such a long history of research, ours is the first study to directly show how the degree of camouflage an individual has, to the eyes of its predators, directly affects the likelihood of it being seen and eaten in the wild."