Background choice as an anti-predator strategy: the roles of background matching and visual complexity in the habitat choice of the least killifish

A1 Originalartikel i en vetenskaplig tidskrift (referentgranskad)

Interna författare/redaktörer

Publikationens författare: Kjernsmo K, Merilaita S
Förläggare: The Royal Society Publishing
Publiceringsår: 2012
Tidskrift: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Tidskriftsakronym: P ROY SOC B-BIOL SCI
Volym: 279
Nummer: 1745
Artikelns första sida, sidnummer: 4192
Artikelns sista sida, sidnummer: 4198
Antal sidor: 7
ISSN: 0962-8452
eISSN: 1471-2954


Because background matching improves concealment, prey animals have traditionally been expected to prefer parts of the habitat that match their visual appearance. However, empirical support for this is scarce. Moreover, this idea has recently been challenged by an alternative hypothesis: visual complexity of the background impedes prey detection, and hence prey could instead prefer complex parts of the habitat. We used the least killifish to test, with and without predation threat, for the importance of the visual similarity between the fish and the background, and the level of visual complexity of the background. We observed their choice between backgrounds patterned with elements based on the longitudinal black stripe of the fish. Predation risk was important under some circumstances, and induced a preference for a background of matching horizontal stripes compared with mismatching vertical stripes. Interestingly, females under predation threat showed a preference for a complex background of randomly oriented and overlapping stripes compared with matching stripes, whereas males did not discriminate between these two. Additionally, males showed a preference for matching stripes compared with complex shapes, whereas females did not discriminate between these backgrounds. We conclude that matching is important in the choice for safe habitat, but some aspects of visual complexity may override or act together with background matching.


background matching, complexity, crypsis, habitat choice, predation, prey coloration

Senast uppdaterad 2020-12-08 vid 07:34