Evolution

Avoiding Attack: The Evolutionary Ecology of Crypsis, by Thomas N. Sherratt, Graeme D. Ruxton, Michael P. Speed

By Thomas N. Sherratt, Graeme D. Ruxton, Michael P. Speed

This booklet discusses the range of mechanisms in which prey keep away from assault by means of predators and questions how such protective mechanisms have developed via ordinary choice. It considers how power prey steer clear of detection, how they make themselves unprofitable to assault, how they sign their unprofitability, and the way different species have exploited those signs. utilizing rigorously chosen examples drawn from a variety of species and ecosystems, the authors current a serious research of crucial released works within the box. Illustrative examples of camouflage, mimicry and caution signs on a regular basis seem in undergraduate ecology textbooks, yet those matters are not often thought of extensive. This e-book summarizes many of the most recent examine into those interesting variations, constructing mathematical types the place applicable and making ideas for the main urgently wanted striking parts of enquiry.

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Extra info for Avoiding Attack: The Evolutionary Ecology of Crypsis, Warning Signals and Mimicry

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1 Introduction Many animals have a systematic gradation in shading and colouration that is neither obviously a case of background matching nor disruptive colouration. Most often, such animals are darker on their dorsal than their ventral regions. This trait is known as countershading (Poulton, 1888; Thayer, 1896). Sometimes the transition from dark to light areas in countershaded animals is very sharp, in penguins, for example; in other cases, such as squirrels, the transition is gradual. Since the existence of countershading is generally limited to animals that are thought to be cryptic, it is easy to draw the conclusion there may be some special mechanism by which countershading renders animals difficult to detect.

In support of the theory, the presence of shading is known in humans to make solid objects stand out from their backgrounds (Ramachandran, 1988). Furthermore, Thayer was certainly correct that countershading is a common trait in many animal species, and this view has been shared over the decades by a number of authors (notably Stephen J. Gould, (1991), who wrote that ‘light bellies [are] perhaps the most universal feature of animal colouration’). ’ The idea gained currency from an early stage despite the fact that supporting evidence is at best patchy.

As Getty (1987) notes ‘we do not have good operational definitions that allow us to recognize and count encounters and rejections unambiguously’. One final question is whether masquerade shows any form of frequency-dependent advantage, such that it is more beneficial to the individuals that possess it when they are rare. Intuitively, one might expect that as the number of prey that masqueraded as twigs increased compared to twigs, then it would pay potential predators to pay more attention to twig-like objects.

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