Animals that rely on camouflage can choose the best places to conceal themselves based on their individual appearance, our work in Zambia has found. Studying nine species of nightjar, plover and courser, we found that individual birds adjust their choices of where to nest based on their specific patterns and colours of their eggs (in the case of plovers and coursers that flee at long range) or their plumage (in the case of nightjars that sit tight on their eggs). Read more in the full paper published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, by Martin Stevens, Jolyon Troscianko, Jared Wilson-Aggarwal and Claire Spottiswoode; see also news articles about this research in The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The International Business Times and Cosmos Magazine, and Jared’s behind-the-paper blog on the journal website.
Our paper ‘Why and how to apply Weber’s Law to coevolution and mimicry’ has been published in the journal Evolution. This perspectives paper, written by Tanmay Dixit, Eleanor Caves, Claire Spottiswoode, and Nicholas Horrocks, argues that Weber’s Law of proportional processing can lead to otherwise counterintuitive predictions about the evolutionary trajectories of mimicry systems. Weber’s Law states that when the magnitude of a stimulus is large, it is more difficult to discriminate a change or difference from that stimulus. In other words, relative differences are more salient than absolute differences. We show that Weber’s Law could have implications for mimicry: when stimulus magnitudes are high, it should be more difficult to discriminate a model from a mimic. This leads to testable predictions about evolutionary trajectories of models and mimics. We also present a framework for testing Weber’s Law and its implications for coevolution.