Size-dependent misclassification of masquerading prey

Skelhorn, J., Rowland, H.M., Speed, M. P., De Wert, L., Quinn, L., Delf, J. and Ruxton, G.D. (2010) Size-dependent misclassification of masquerading prey. Behavioral Ecology, 21(6), pp. 1344-1348. (doi: 10.1093/beheco/arq159)

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Masquerading organisms appear to closely resemble inedible and generally inanimate objects, such as twigs, leaves, stones, and bird droppings. It has recently been demonstrated that masquerading prey gain protection from predation by being misclassified as inedible objects by their predators. Here, we present the first experimental test of the requirements of effective masquerade. Specifically, we explore whether masquerading prey need to be very similar in size to the GÇ£modelGÇ¥ objects that they appear to resemble. Using domestic chicks as predators of twig-mimicking caterpillars, we find that matching a model object in size increases protection from predation; however, similarity of appearance without size matching still affords some protection. This study helps to explain why masquerading prey often resemble objects that are inherently variable in size (e.g., twigs, leaves, and stones) and has important implications for the evolution of masquerade as an antipredator defense

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Skelhorn, Dr John and De Wert, Ms Leoni and Ruxton, Professor Graeme and Rowland, Dr Hannah
Authors: Skelhorn, J., Rowland, H.M., Speed, M. P., De Wert, L., Quinn, L., Delf, J., and Ruxton, G.D.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Behavioral Ecology

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
451771Optimal investment in costly anti-predator defencesGraeme RuxtonNatural Environment Research Council (NERC)NE/E016626/1Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine