University of Bristol

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BVI Seminar: The effectiveness of camouflage; predator learning and new modelling approaches

Friday 18, November, 2016 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Jolyon Troscianko, Exeter University

jolyon-trosciankoAbstract: Evading detection is crucial for the survival of many animals, and number of different means of achieving camouflage have been discovered. I will discuss my recent work investigating whether some types of camouflage are more easily learnt than others. If predators learn to find one type of prey more efficiently than others over successive encounters, this could create frequency dependent selection, and help to explain the diversity of camouflage strategies we see in nature. In addition, I will discuss some recent work on objectively modelling the conspicuousness of camouflaged prey. Such models are frequently used to measure levels of camouflage or visual difference, but their efficacy has rarely been tested and compared to alternatives. I found that a novel method for quantifying edge disruption was the best predictor of capture times; this technique could in turn help us to finally form a definition of disruptive camouflage, demonstrating the need for combining neurophysiology with behaviour and modelling approaches to understand how camouflage works.

BiographyI have a background in behavioural ecology and sensory ecology, asking questions such as how an animal’s cognition or appearance to other animals affects how they interact with their environment, and how this in turn affects their evolution (see my publications).I’m currently a postdoctoral research associate, working on a BBSRC grant to Martin Stevens and John Skelhorn, investigating how easily predators can learn and switch between different camouflage strategies. I’m testing this using a series of touch-screen experiments on humans and laboratory chickens, training them to find computer generated “moths” that are concealed with different types of camouflage. For more information visit:



Friday 18, November, 2016
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
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Seminar Room, Life Sciences Building
Tyndall Avenue
Bristol, BS8


Sarah Hanson
0117 954 5385