Effects of avian predator psychology on signal design

Project leader

Funding source

Swedish Research Council - Vetenskapsrådet (VR)

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2006
End date: 31/12/2007
Funding: 810000 SEK


Aposematism is a common signalling system, where animals that possess a defence against predation (e.g. being toxic) signal this to potential predators with a conspicuous warning coloration. Although much is known about under what circumstances an aposematic strategy may evolve, and of how warning coloration may work as a signal to predators, we still do not understand how animals interpret signals, and why they are designed the way they are. For instance, the function of internal patterns, such as stripes and dots, that are so common in waning colorations, is unknown. Have they evolved to increase the signal efficacy, or do they have other purposes? As all signals need to be easy to detect, discriminate and memorise by the intended receivers to be as efficient s possible, it happens that senders with opposing messages may use the same colour signals. Such is the cases with red and black, for instance, which are both aversive warning colours and attractive fruit colours. Do different predators have specific adaptations to deal with this problem? In this project I aim to experimentally study discrimination and generalisation in birds, one of the main receivers of warning signals and fruit displays, to investigate what signal design features are beneficial for different purposes. I aim to apply theories of animal cognition to what is currently known about prey coloration to gain a fuller understanding of what selection pressures operate on signals and signallers in nature

Last updated on 2017-31-03 at 12:57