Distraction, disruption and dazzle in animal camouflage (talk by Dr Martin Stevens)

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Distraction, disruption and dazzle in animal camouflage

Talk by Dr Martin Stevens

Camouflage is probably the most widespread means of predator avoidance in animals, and is important to humans in various applications. It is also a valuable system to test visual processing, and has long been a classic textbook example of natural selection found in numerous species worldwide. There are, however, many types of camouflage that have only recently received experimental investigation, both in terms of their relative value and how they work. I will discuss recent experiments investigating how different types of camouflage work and are optimised, including disruptive coloration to break up body outlines, and motion dazzle to prevent capture when moving. I will then highlight where we need to go next in camouflage research, especially with greater work in complex natural systems.


Martin Stevens is a BBSRC Research Fellow based in the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge. He is also a fellow of Churchill College. Martin’s research focuses on sensory ecology and behaviour, including animal colouration and vision. Much of his work has investigated how different types of camouflage work from the perspective of a predator’s visual system, and egg mimicry and rejection behaviour in brood parasitic systems. In addition, he has also investigated how animal eyespots work to deter predators, what makes an effective warning signal (aposematism), and the role of primate coloration as sexual signals of fertility and dominance. His work combines analysis of animal vision and field experiments with real species and artificial systems.

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