Contrasting coloration in terrestrial mammals

Here I survey, collate and synthesize contrasting coloration in 5000 species of terrestrial mammals focusing on black and white pelage. After briefly reviewing alternative functional hypotheses for coloration in mammals, I examine nine colour patterns and combinations on different areas of the body and for each mammalian taxon to try to identify the most likely […]

Comparing entire colour patterns as birds see them

Colour patterns and their visual backgrounds consist of a mosaic of patches that vary in colour, brightness, size, shape and position. Most studies of crypsis, aposematism, sexual selection, or other forms of signalling concentrate on one or two patch classes (colours), either ignoring the rest of the colour pattern, or analysing the patches separately. We […]

Interspecific and intraspecific views of color signals in the strawberry poison frog Dendrobates pumilio

Poison frogs in the anuran family Dendrobatidae use bright colors on their bodies to advertise toxicity. The species Dendrobates pumilio Schmidt 1858, the strawberry poison frog, shows extreme polymorphism in color and pattern in Panama. It is known that females of D. pumilio preferentially choose mates of their own color morph. Nevertheless, potential predators must […]

Can receiver psychology explain the evolution of aposematism?

The evolution of aposematism is difficult to explain because: (1) new aposematic morphs will be relatively rare and thus risk extinction during predator education; and (2) aposematic morphs lack the protection of crypsis, and thus appear to invite attacks. I describe a simple method for evaluating whether rare aposematic morphs may be selectively advantaged by […]

Hairiness and warning colours as components of antipredator defence: additive or interactive benefits?

To deter predator attack, aposematic prey species advertise their unprofitability with one or more conspicuous warning signals that, in turn, enhance the avoidance learning of predators. We studied the costs and benefits of multicomponent signalling in Parasemia plantaginis moths. The hairy moth larvae have an orange patch on their otherwise black bodies. The patch varies […]

Do coral reef fish learn to avoid unpalatable prey using visual cues?

Colour and pattern provide important visual cues that affect animal behaviour. Learned avoidance of unpalatable prey by coral reef fish in response to visual cues has been studied before, but visual cues have not been separated from distastefulness to make certain that fish were learning solely in response to visual signals. Here, we used artificial […]

Ambient temperature influences birds’ decisions to eat toxic prey

Aposematic prey warn predators of their toxicity using conspicuous signals. However, predators regularly include aposematic prey in their diets, particularly when they are in a poor energetic state and in need of nutrients. We investigated whether or not an environmental factor, ambient temperature, could change the energetic state of predators and lead to an increased […]