Colour change of twig-mimicking peppered moth larvae is a continuous reaction norm that increases camouflage against avian predators



Eacock, Amy, Rowland, Hannah M, Edmonds, Nicola and Saccheri, Ilik J ORCID: 0000-0003-0476-2347
(2017) Colour change of twig-mimicking peppered moth larvae is a continuous reaction norm that increases camouflage against avian predators. PeerJ — the Journal of Life and Environmental Sciences, 5.

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Abstract

Camouflage, and in particular background-matching, is one of the most commonanti-predator strategies observed in nature. Animals can improve their match to thecolour/pattern of their surroundings through background selection, and/or by plasticcolour change. Colour change can occur rapidly (a few seconds), or it may be slow,taking hours to days. Many studies have explored the cues and mechanisms behindrapid colour change, but there is a considerable lack of information about slow colourchange in the context of predation: the cues that initiate it, and the range of phenotypesthat are produced. Here we show that peppered moth (Biston betularia) larvae respondto colour and luminance of the twigs they rest on, and exhibit a continuous reactionnorm of phenotypes. When presented with a heterogeneous environment of mixed twigcolours, individual larvae specialise crypsis towards one colour rather than developingan intermediate colour. Flexible colour change in this species has likely evolved inassociation with wind dispersal and polyphagy, which result in caterpillars settling andfeeding in a diverse range of visual environments. This is the first example of visuallyinduced slow colour change in Lepidoptera that has been objectively quantified andmeasured from the visual perspective of natural predators.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Colour change, Camouflage, Reaction norm, Biston betularia, Masquerade, Polyphenism, Predator-prey interactions
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2017 10:51
Last Modified: 18 Aug 2022 18:24
DOI: 10.7717/peerj.3999
Related URLs:
URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3013290