Animals actively choose to match their surroundings to avoid predation

April 27, 2017, Wiley
An intermediate crab on intermediate sand. Credit: Biotropica

Animals can match their background to avoid detection by predators. For instance, numerous species have evolved color patterns that help them blend into their surroundings and avoid predators—a phenomenon called crypsis. A new experimental study found that ghost crabs in the Solomon Islands may achieve crypsis by actively choosing to live in sand background that matches their body color.

Work by biologists from the University of Miami shows that crabs with dark coloration choose dark sand while crabs with light coloration choose light sand. Crabs of intermediate color show no specific choice, as they did not match either sand.

"In nature, it is common to see animals match their background, but in many cases we don't know if this is through active choice, a change in color, or a combination of these two," said Dr. Floria Uy, lead author of the Biotropica article. "Our study shows that these crabs are actively choosing match their sand background."

The results have implications in understanding the evolution of anti-predator adaptations.

Explore further: Sand fleas have ability to change color in order to match dramatically different backgrounds

More information: Biotropica (2017). DOI: 10.1111/btp.12429

Related Stories

Lizards keep it local when it comes to colour change

March 16, 2017

Driving out in the Australian desert you may come across a bright orange two-foot long lizard perched on a tree stump. It will be a bearded dragon, surveying its territory. But if you stop and get out of your car, it will ...

Danger lurking below the sand

August 1, 2011

A voracious predator that devours prey larger than itself has been found lurking beneath Queensland's golden sandy beaches.

Scientists reveal game of thrones in crab world

January 25, 2017

Crabs that invade smaller crab species' habitat overpower and evict incumbents from their burrows, but the two species ultimately co-exist and join forces against other invading crabs in a game of thrones once they establish ...

Recommended for you

When a fish becomes fluid

December 17, 2018

Zebrafish aren't just surrounded by liquid, but turn liquid—in part—during their development. As the zebrafish embryo develops from a ball of cells to a fully-formed fish, a region of the embryo switches its phase from ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.