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Natural levels of colour polymorphism reduce performance of visual predators searching for camouflaged prey
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Department of Biology and Environmental Science. (Ctr Ecol & Evolut Microbial Model Syst EEMiS;Evolutionary ecology)
Åbo Akademi University, Finland.
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Department of Biology and Environmental Science. (Ctr Ecol & Evolut Microbial Model Syst EEMiS;Evolutionary ecology)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9598-7618
2014 (English)In: Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, ISSN 0024-4066, E-ISSN 1095-8312, Vol. 112, no 3, p. 546-555Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Polymorphism, the coexistence of two or more variants within a population, has served as a classic model system to address questions about the evolution and maintenance of intra-specific variation. It has been hypothesized that natural level of colour polymorphism may impair the search efficiency of visually oriented predators. To test this polymorphism protects hypothesis, we asked human participants to search for images of natural black, striped or grey Tetrix subulata grasshopper colour morphs presented against photographs of their natural habitat on computer screens. Fewer grasshoppers were detected when morphs were presented in mixed than in uniform sequences. All three morphs benefitted to comparable degrees, in terms of reduced detection, from being presented in polymorphic sequences. Our findings demonstrate that natural levels of polymorphic variation can impede the efficiency of visually oriented predators and increase survival of prey. This protective effect supports the limited attention hypothesis, explains why predators develop ‘search images’, may account for the spread and establishment of novel colour variants, and contribute to maintenance of polymorphisms.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 112, no 3, p. 546-555
Keywords [en]
biodiversity - camouflage - colour polymorphism - crypsis - evolution - predation - search images - Tetrix subulata
National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Ecology, Evolutionary Biology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-32583DOI: 10.1111/bij.12276ISI: 000337613700013Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84902551810OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-32583DiVA, id: diva2:700101
Funder
Swedish Research CouncilAvailable from: 2014-03-03 Created: 2014-03-03 Last updated: 2018-10-24Bibliographically approved

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Karpestam, EinatForsman, Anders

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