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Dazzle markings and movement as an anti-predator strategy


Predation exerts strong selective pressures that have far-reaching effects on prey. As a result, many animals that are vulnerable to predation have evolved colouration or markings to evade capture. Some markings may prevent predators from accurately judging the speed or trajectory of moving prey, decreasing the likelihood of successful capture. Motion dazzle markings are high contrast patterns that may function in this way. The aim of this project is to determine what factors are important in motion dazzle and to test the efficacy of motion dazzle markings using an ecologically relevant predator.

The first part of the project will identify what factors are important in motion dazzle using humans as predators. Participants will interact with touch screens and ‘catch’ prey that differ in their shape and colour, to determine whether these factors alter perception of speed or trajectory. The second part of the project will quantify the efficacy of motion dazzle markings using scrub-jays as predators. By using touch screens to test the capture rate of targets that vary in their markings, shape, colour and speed, this project will use a realistic predation scenario to identify whether these factors are important in evading capture.

By combining sensory ecology, physiology and cognitive research, this project will test for the first time whether motion dazzle markings can affect prey capture rate, and will determine how perception is altered. Very few studies have investigated the role of anti-predator markings when in motion, and given that the majority of predator-prey interactions occur when prey are moving, this research aims to address an important knowledge gap. The project will identify whether certain markings are more effective than others, and will determine how animals have evolved to protect themselves from attack when moving.

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Trinity Lane The Old Schools
CB2 1TN Cambridge
United Kingdom
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 221 606,40
Administrative Contact
Renata Schaeffer (Ms.)