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Dappled light disrupts prey detection by masking movement

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-95
Number of pages7
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Early online date9 Aug 2019
DateAccepted/In press - 27 May 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print - 9 Aug 2019
DatePublished (current) - 1 Sep 2019


Prey and ambush predators that rely on concealment face a major constraint: motion breaks camouflage. However, dappled light is a common feature of sunny, vegetated habitats and can, when conditions are windy, become a source of dynamic visual noise. We tested the idea that the latter could mask movement, reducing the risk of detection. Newly-hatched domestic fowl chicks (Gallus gallus domesticus), a proxy for wild forest floor birds, were trained to peck moving, on-screen prey presented amongst two sources of dynamic dappled light: computer-simulated and that created with a mirror ball. Dynamic dapple, however produced, increased the chick’s latency to both fixate and peck the prey. Furthermore, we show that dynamic visual noise masks motion in a way that static visual noise does not. This reduction in foraging efficiency should, we predict, have significant consequences for an organism’s choice of habitat (as prey), foraging area (as predator) and its pattern of movement within a habitat.

    Structured keywords

  • Cognitive Science
  • Visual Perception

    Research areas

  • signal masking, motion camouflage, foraging, dappled light, Dynamic illumination



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    Rights statement: This is the accepted author manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via Elsevier at . Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Accepted author manuscript, 506 KB, PDF document

    Embargo ends: 9/08/20

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    Licence: CC BY-NC-ND


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