Non-visual camouflage

Rohan M. Brooker, Bob B.M. Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialOtherpeer-review


What is non-visual camouflage?  For over 800 million years, the constant arms race between predators and prey has driven the evolution of ecological innovations aimed at improving the chances of capturing prey or avoiding being caught. One of the most fascinating of these is camouflage, where organisms avoid detection or recognition by unwanted receivers (i.e. predators or prey) by altering the sensory information they emit. Camouflage has independently evolved in a diverse range of animal taxa — from ants to whales — implying that it plays a fundamental ecological role, mediating trophic interactions throughout the food chain. When we think of camouflage, we generally imagine animals that resemble their visual surroundings. This is no coincidence: sight is our primary sense and our brains are particularly adept at noticing visual patterns. However, for many animals, vision is outweighed by other senses, reliance on which is often critical when interacting with their environments. For instance, sharks have an olfactory sense hundreds of times better than ours and use chemical information to locate prey over large distances. Thus, just as animals alter their visual appearance to avoid detection, there is likely to be similar pressure to conceal the non-visual information they emit to blend in, i.e. non-visual camouflage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R1290-R1292
Number of pages3
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2020

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