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Defeating crypsis: detection and learning of camouflage strategies.

Troscianko, Jolyon and Lown, Alice E and Hughes, Anna E and Stevens, Martin (2013) 'Defeating crypsis: detection and learning of camouflage strategies.' PLoS One, 8 (9). e73733-e73733. ISSN 1932-6203

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Abstract

Camouflage is perhaps the most widespread defence against predators in nature and an active area of interdisciplinary research. Recent work has aimed to understand what camouflage types exist (e.g. background matching, disruptive, and distractive patterns) and their effectiveness. However, work has almost exclusively focused on the efficacy of these strategies in preventing initial detection, despite the fact that predators often encounter the same prey phenotype repeatedly, affording them opportunities to learn to find those prey more effectively. The overall value of a camouflage strategy may, therefore, reflect both its ability to prevent detection by predators and resist predator learning. We conducted four experiments with humans searching for hidden targets of different camouflage types (disruptive, distractive, and background matching of various contrast levels) over a series of touch screen trials. As with previous work, disruptive coloration was the most successful method of concealment overall, especially with relatively high contrast patterns, whereas potentially distractive markings were either neutral or costly. However, high contrast patterns incurred faster decreases in detection times over trials compared to other stimuli. In addition, potentially distractive markings were sometimes learnt more slowly than background matching markings, despite being found more readily overall. Finally, learning effects were highly dependent upon the experimental paradigm, including the number of prey types seen and whether subjects encountered targets simultaneously or sequentially. Our results show that the survival advantage of camouflage strategies reflects both their ability to avoid initial detection (sensory mechanisms) and predator learning (perceptual mechanisms).

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Animals; Humans; Pigmentation; Photic Stimulation; Predatory Behavior; Learning; Visual Perception; Adaptation, Physiological; Color; Time Factors
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health
Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 11 Aug 2021 09:04
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 14:09
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/30500

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