Evolutionary Biology pp 319-364

Part of the Evolutionary Biology book series (EBIO, volume 11)

A Predator’s View of Animal Color Patterns

  • John A. Endler


It has long been known that the general colors and tones of animals tend to match their backgrounds (E. Darwin, 1794; Poulton, 1890). The adaptive significance of this has been borne out in numerous experimental studies (DiCesnola, 1904; Sumner, 1934, 1935; Isley, 1938; Popham, 1942; Dice, 1947; Turner, 1961; Kettlewell, 1956, 1973; Kaufman, 1974; Wiklund, 1975; Curio, 1976). There is also a good understanding of warning coloration (Cott, 1940; Wickler, 1968; Edmunds, 1974; Rothschild, 1975). However, the determinants of color pattern are poorly known, although it is known in a general way that the patterns and forms of animals are similar to their backgrounds (Poulton, 1890; Thayer, 1909; Cott, 1940; Wickler, 1968; Robinson, 1969; Edmunds, 1974; Fogden and Fogden, 1974). It is the purpose of this paper to explore the factors that determine color patterns under various specific conditions. The basic assumption is that a color pattern must resemble a random sample of the background seen by predators in order to be cryptic, and must deviate from the background in one or more ways in order to be conspicuous. As a result, the actual pattern evolved in a particular place represents a compromise between factors which favor crypsis and those which favor conspicuous color patterns.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • John A. Endler
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA

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