Facultative Crypsis in Lizards

By: Patrick McLaughlin, Natasha Moniz, and Emma Tedeschi (Stonehill College, BIO323: Evolution, Spring 2022)

Crypsis, another term for camouflage, is a strategy that many organisms use to protect themselves from predators. Many organisms perform a process known as ‘environmental matching’, which is when an organism changes the color of their skin to match their habitat. Disruptive camouflage is a specialized type of camouflage that disrupts the organism’s outline by creating false edges, making it hard for the predator to find their prey. Studies have been conducted and results have been compiled into a scientific article called “Rapid Body Color Change Provides Lizards with Facultative Crypsis in the Eyes of their Avian Predators,” with research done by Kelly Lin Wuthrich, Amber Nagel, and Lindsey Swierk. This research has helped with understanding the ability of organisms to be able to rapidly change their body color and its effects on their survival. The experiments were conducted using receiver visual models, digital image analysis, and spectrophotometric tests. However, researchers have yet to reveal if rapid color change can alter the whole color of the body or patterns of an organism. When gathering research, many factors need to be taken into consideration, such as the predators’ visual systems, the rapidity of the color change, and the variety of microhabitats. Anolis lizards, or anoles, are known for their rapid color-changing abilities. Some species can change colors within minutes, going from light to dark and vice-versa. However, it has been discovered that going from dark to light seems to be more difficult for an organism than going from light to dark- it is more time-consuming. The researchers tested whether rapid body color change in water anoles (Anolis aquaticus) could provide benefits to the organism with proper camouflage between different microhabitats.

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