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Concealing Coloration in Animals

Concealing Coloration in Animals

Judy Diamond, Alan B. Bond

ISBN 9780674052352

Publication date: 04/09/2013

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The biological functions of coloration in animals are sometimes surprising. Color can attract mates, intimidate enemies, and distract predators. But color patterns can also conceal animals from detection. Concealing coloration is unusual because it is an adaptation not only to the visual features of the environment but also to the perceptual and cognitive capabilities of other organisms. Judy Diamond and Alan Bond bring to light the many factors at work in the evolution of concealing coloration.

Animals that resemble twigs, tree bark, stones, and seaweed may appear to be perfect imitations, but no concealment strategy is without flaws. Amid the clutter of the natural world, predators search for minute, telltale clues that will reveal the identity of their prey. Predators have remarkable abilities to learn to discriminate the fake from the real. But prey have their own range of defensive tactics, evolving multiple appearances or the ability to change color at will. Drawing on modern experimental evidence of the functional significance of animal color strategies, Diamond and Bond offer striking illustrations of how the evolution of features in one organism can be driven by the psychology of others.

Concealing Coloration in Animals takes readers on a scientific adventure that explores creatures inside mats of floating seaweed, mice and lizards on desert rocks and sand, and rare parrots in the rainforest of New Zealand. Color photographs extensively document the mind-boggling array of deceptive strategies animals use to blend in, mislead, or vanish from view.


  • Diamond and Bond do an excellent job of discussing the evolutionary mechanisms and processes in a simple yet powerful way that should be accessible to nonexperts. They make the subject come alive by telling us not just what we know about camouflage today, but also where the field has come from, and equally importantly the work that has been done to get us here.

    —Martin Stevens, Animal Behaviour


  • Judy Diamond is Professor and Curator at the University of Nebraska State Museum.
  • Alan B. Bond is Research Professor of Biological Sciences and Co-Director of the Center for Avian Cognition at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

Book Details

  • 288 pages
  • 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
  • Belknap Press