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Bright warning colours on poison dart frogs also act as camouflage

Combining fieldwork in the jungles of French Guiana, computational modelling, and laboratory visual search experiments, our alumni Dr Jim Barnett and colleagues investigated how the Dyeing Dart Frog uses its colours to balance the benefits of effective warning signals with the advantages of concealment.

They found that, despite being highly conspicuous at close range, the particular colours and their arrangement allow the pattern to blend together to form background-matching camouflage when viewed from a distance.

The frog’s pattern, therefore, allows it to get the best of both worlds: high fidelity camouflage until a predator discovers it, at which point its bright, highly salient, warning signal becomes clear.

Posted on 4th Jun 2018