Most animals need to move, whether this is to seek out food, shelter or a mate. New research has shown that movement doesn’t always break camouflage and if an animal needs to move, animals that are unpatterned and use short, fast movements are less likely to be located by predators.
In most cases, most of the visual field of a predator does not fall within a high-resolution area and so, when an undetected prey moves, that motion will often be in peripheral vision. Research by academics at the University of Bristol, published today [15 January] in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, has investigated how this can be exploited by prey, through different patterns of movement, to reduce the accuracy with which the predator can locate undetected prey when it redirects its gaze toward the target.
Ioan Smart, a former postgraduate at Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences and lead author, said: “Our research has shown that the ability of a predator to localise upon a target in its peripheral vision is influenced by duration, speed and target pattern. Some behaviours can reduce the negative effect that movement can have on camouflage. Localisation can be reduced, if the moving target is unpatterned, has the mean brightness of the background, it does not use a startle display before moving, and uses short, fast movements.” MORE