Protective coloration in animals. Mimicry, disguise and protective coloration

Protective coloration in animals. Mimicry, disguise and protective coloration
Protective coloration in animals. Mimicry, disguise and protective coloration

Protective coloration is the protective color and shape of animals that make their owners invisible in their habitats. In fact, this is a kind of passive defense against natural predators. Protective coloration is combined with a certain behavior of its owner. Usually the animal hides against a background that matches its color, in addition, it takes a certain pose. For example, many butterflies settle on the surface of a tree in such a way that the spots on their wings coincide with the spots on the bark, and the bittern, which nests in the reeds, in case of danger, stretches its body along the stems of plants.

patronizing coloring is

The role of passive protection in the life of animals

Protective coloration is especially important for the protection of organisms at an early stage of ontogenesis (larvae, eggs, chicks), as well as for adults leading a sedentary mode of existence or at rest (for example, sleep) for a long period. In addition, it plays an important role in a rapidly changing environment. So, in many animals, the possibility of changing color when moving to another background is due. For example, atagama, flounder, chameleon. In temperate latitudes, many animals and birds are subject to seasonal color changes.

It is customary to distinguish three types of protective coloration: disguise, demonstration and mimicry. All of them arise as a result of the interaction of living beings in biogeocenosis against the background of certain environmental conditions. Protective coloration is a biocenotic adaptation developed as a result of the coupled evolution of predators and prey. In addition to the patronizing, there are also warning, attractive and dismembering colors.

animal disguise

Protective coloration

As mentioned above, the protective coloration of animals always bears a resemblance to the environment in which they live. For example, desert lizards or snakes have a yellow-gray color to match the vegetation and soil, and the inhabitants of snowy regions have white feathers and fur. This disguise of animals allows them to remain invisible to enemies. It can be to some extent the same for the inhabitants of completely different natural zones. For example, praying mantises or grasshoppers, lizards or frogs living in the grassy cover of the middle zone are characterized by green colors. It also predominates in insects, reptiles, amphibians, and even in some species of tropical forest birds. Often, protective coloration may include a pattern. For example, ribbon butterflies have an ornament of many stripes, spots and lines on their wings. When they sit on a tree, they completely merge with the pattern of its bark. Another important element of protective coloration is the effectcountershading is when the illuminated side of the animal is darker in color than the one in shadow. This principle is observed in fish that live in the upper layers of the water.

protective coloration

Seasonal coloring

For example, we can consider the inhabitants of the tundra. So, partridges or arctic foxes in summer have a brown color to match the color of vegetation, stones and lichens, and in winter it becomes white. Also, the inhabitants of the middle lane, such as foxes, weasels, hares, ermines, change their coat color twice a year. Seasonal coloration exists in insects as well. For example, a leaf-winged plant with folded wings is remarkably similar to a tree leaf. In summer it is green, and in autumn it turns brown-yellow.

Scaring coloring

Animals with bright colors are clearly visible, they often keep open, in case of danger they do not hide. They do not need to be careful, as they are often poisonous or inedible. Their warning coloration signals to everyone around - do not touch. Most often, it includes various combinations of such colors: red, black, yellow, white. A number of insects can be cited as an example: wasps, bees, hornets, ladybugs, swallowtail caterpillars, etc.; and animals: dart frogs, salamanders. For example, poison dart frog slime is so poisonous that it is used to treat arrowheads. One such arrow can kill a large leopard.

what is mimicry

What is mimicry?

Let's look at what is meant by this term. mimicryanimals is the similarity of defenseless species with species that are well protected. A similar phenomenon in nature was first discovered in South American butterflies, so in flocks of hyliconids (inedible for birds) whites were seen, which were very similar in color, size, shape and manner of flight to the first. This phenomenon is widespread among insects (glass butterflies disguise themselves as hornets, syphid flies as wasps and bees), fish and snakes. Well, we have considered what mimicry is, now we will deal with the concept of form, dismembering and changing coloring.

Protective Uniform

There are many animals whose body shape is similar to various environmental objects. Such properties save them from enemies, especially if the shape is combined with a protective color. There are many types of caterpillars that can stretch out at an angle to a tree branch and freeze, in which case they become like a twig or knot. The resemblance to plants is widespread in tropical insect species: the devil's mantis, adelungia cicada, cycloper, acridoxena, etc. With the help of the body, a sea clown or a rag-picker horse can be masked.

warning coloration

Dissecting coloring

The coloring of many representatives of the animal world is a combination of stripes and spots that do not correspond to the shape of the owner, but merge with the surrounding background in tone and ornament. Such a coloring, as it were, dismembers the animal, hence its name. An example would be a giraffe or a zebra. Their spotted and striped figures are practicallyinvisible among the vegetation of the African savannah, especially at dusk, when the king of beasts goes hunting. A great camouflage effect due to dissected coloring can be observed in some amphibians. For example, the body of the South African toad Bufo superciliaris is visually divided into two parts, as a result it completely loses its shape. Many species of snakes also have dissecting colors, which makes them invisible against the background of fallen leaves and variegated vegetation. In addition, this type of disguise is actively used by the inhabitants of the underwater world and insects.

mimicry in animals

Changing color

This property makes animals hardly noticeable when the scenery changes. There are many fish that can change their color when the background changes. For example, flounder, thalassoma, sea needles, skates, dogs, etc. Lizards can also change their color, this is most pronounced in the tree chameleon. In addition, the octopus mollusk changes its color in case of danger, it can also skillfully disguise itself as soils of any color, while repeating the most cunning seabed ornament. Various crustaceans, amphibians, insects and spiders masterfully manage their colors.

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