Camouflage through colour change: mechanisms, adaptive value, and ecological significance
Philosophical Transactions B: Biological Sciences
Royal Society of London
© 2017 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Animals from a wide range of taxonomic groups are capable of colour change, of which camouflage is one of the main functions. A considerable amount of past work on this subject has investigated species capable of extremely rapid colour change (in seconds). However, relatively slow colour change (over hours, days, weeks, and months), as well as changes arising via developmental plasticity are probably more common than rapid changes, yet less studied. We discuss three key areas of colour change and camouflage. First, we review the mechanisms underpinning colour change and developmental plasticity for camouflage, including cellular processes, visual feedback, hormonal control, and dietary factors. Second, we discuss the adaptive value of colour change for camouflage, including the use of different camouflage types. Third, we discuss the evolutionary-ecological implications of colour change for concealment, including what it can tell us about intraspecific colour diversity, morph-specific strategies, and matching to different environments and microhabitats. Throughout, we discuss key unresolved questions and present directions for future work, and highlight how colour change facilitates camouflage among habitats, and arises when animals are faced with environmental changes occurring over a range of spatial and temporal scales.
We thank Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP) which granted a PhD fellowship to R.C.D. (#2012/17003-0) and a visiting researcher grant to M.S. (#2015/22258-5), and a BBSRC David Phillips Research Fellowship (BB/G022887/1) to M.S. We thank Russell Ligon, Tom Tregenza, two anonymous referees and the Editor for helpful comments on the manuscript. We thank the Editors for the invitation to submit this paper to the special issue.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from the Royal Society via the DOI in this record.
Published online 22 May 2017
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as © 2017 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.