Interference coloration as an anti-predator defence

Biol Lett. 2015 Apr;11(4):20150159. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2015.0159.


Interference coloration, in which the perceived colour varies predictably with the angle of illumination or observation, is extremely widespread across animal groups. However, despite considerable advances in our understanding of the mechanistic basis of interference coloration in animals, we still have a poor understanding of its function. Here, I show, using avian predators hunting dynamic virtual prey, that the presence of interference coloration can significantly reduce a predator's attack success. Predators required more pecks to successfully catch interference-coloured prey compared with otherwise identical prey items that lacked interference coloration, and attacks against prey with interference colours were less accurate, suggesting that changes in colour or brightness caused by prey movement hindered a predator's ability to pinpoint their exact location. The pronounced anti-predator benefits of interference coloration may explain why it has evolved independently so many times.

Keywords: Japanese quail; Lucilia spp.; greenbottles; iridescence; motion dazzle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Color*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Female
  • Models, Biological
  • Movement
  • Predatory Behavior*
  • Quail / physiology*