Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bad news for prey: New research shows that predators can learn to read camouflage

Date:
September 10, 2013
Source:
University of Exeter
Summary:
Camouflaged creatures can perform remarkable disappearing acts but new research shows that predators can learn to read camouflage. The study, which used human subjects as predators searching for hidden moths in computer games, found that the subjects could learn to find some types of camouflaged prey faster than others.

Predators can learn to read the camouflage of their prey.
Credit: Jolyon Troscianko

Camouflaged creatures can perform remarkable disappearing acts but new research shows that predators can learn to read camouflage.

The study, which used human subjects as predators searching for hidden moths in computer games, found that the subjects could learn to find some types of camouflaged prey faster than others.

The research was carried out by the University of Exeter and the University of Cambridge and is published in the journal PLOS ONE. Moths with high contrast markings -- that break up the shape of the body, like that of a zebra or giraffe -- were best at evading predation at the start of the experiment. However humans learnt to find these prey types faster than moths with low contrast markings that match the background, like that of a stick insect or leaf bug.

The study shows that the benefit of a camouflage strategy depends on both how well it prevents initial detection and also on how well it inhibits learning.

Lead author Dr Jolyon Troscianko from Biosciences at the University of Exeter said: "This is the first time that a study has focused on the learning of different camouflage types rather than how quickly camouflage prevents initial detection.

"We found considerable differences in the way that predators learn to find different types of camouflage.

"If too many animals all start to use the same camouflage strategy then predators are likely to learn to overcome that strategy more easily, so prey species should use different camouflage strategies to stay under the radar. This helps to explain why such a huge range of camouflage strategies exist in nature."

Camouflage offers a visual example of how the process of natural section works in evolution. Those prey with successful camouflage strategies evade predation, survive and reproduce giving rise to future generations of successfully camouflaged individuals. Camouflage is probably the most widespread way of preventing predation in nature and is also valuable in human military applications as well as in recreation, art and fashion.

Hunt for hidden birds in new online game

Master of disguise the African nightjar has excellent camouflage that makes it very difficult to spot. The researchers have launched an online game 'Find the nightjar' where players are challenged to search for real nightjars hidden against the background of the African bush. The results will be used to help the researchers find out about animal perception and how it differs between predator types.

Take part in the online game.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Exeter. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Troscianko J, Lown AE, Hughes AE, Stevens M. Defeating Crypsis: Detection and Learning of Camouflage Strategies. PLoS ONE, (2013) 8(9): e73733 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0073733

Cite This Page:

University of Exeter. "Bad news for prey: New research shows that predators can learn to read camouflage." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130910205441.htm>.
University of Exeter. (2013, September 10). Bad news for prey: New research shows that predators can learn to read camouflage. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130910205441.htm
University of Exeter. "Bad news for prey: New research shows that predators can learn to read camouflage." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130910205441.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) With plenty of honking, flapping, and fluttering, more than three dozen Caribbean flamingos at Zoo Miami were rounded up today as the iconic exhibit was closed for renovations. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins