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Biol Lett. Oct 23, 2010; 6(5): 597–599.
Published online Apr 21, 2010. doi:  10.1098/rsbl.2010.0226
PMCID: PMC2936160
Predators are less likely to misclassify masquerading prey when their models are present
John Skelhorn* and Graeme D. Ruxton
Division of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Faculty of Biomedical and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G20 8QQ, UK
*Author for correspondence (j.skelhorn/at/
Received March 4, 2010; Accepted April 1, 2010.
Masquerading animals have evolved striking visual resemblances to inanimate objects. These animals gain protection from their predators not simply by avoiding detection, but by causing their predators to misclassify them as the ‘models’ that they appear to resemble. Using domestic chicks as predators and twig-mimicking caterpillars as prey, we demonstrated that masquerading prey were more likely to be misclassified as their models when viewed in isolation from their models than when viewed alongside examples of their model, although they benefitted from masquerade to some extent in both conditions. From this, we predict a selection pressure on masqueraders to use microhabitats that reduce the risk of them being viewed simultaneously with examples of their model, and/or to more closely resemble their model in situations where simultaneous viewing is commonplace.
Keywords: masquerade, camouflage, predation, predator–prey, detection, classification
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