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Cognition and the evolution of camouflage

Lookup NU author(s): Dr John Skelhorn, Professor Candy Rowe


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Camouflage is one of the most widespread forms of anti-predator defence and prevents prey individuals from being detected or correctly recognized by would-be predators. Over the past decade, there has been a resurgence of interest in both the evolution of prey camouflage patterns, and in understanding animal cognition in a more ecological context. However, these fields rarely collide, and the role of cognition in the evolution of camouflage is poorly understood. Here, we review what we currently know about the role of both predator and prey cognition in the evolution of prey camouflage, outline why cognition may be an important selective pressure driving the evolution of camouflage and consider how studying the cognitive processes of animals may prove to be a useful tool to study the evolution of camouflage, and vice versa. In doing so, we highlight that we still have a lot to learn about the role of cognition in the evolution of camouflage and identify a number of avenues for future research.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Skelhorn J, Rowe C

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

Year: 2016

Volume: 283

Issue: 1825

Online publication date: 24/02/2016

Acceptance date: 28/01/2016

ISSN (print): 0962-8452

ISSN (electronic): 1471-2954

Publisher: ROYAL SOC


DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.2890