Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford

Disruptive Coloration

  • Thomas E. WhiteEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_676-1


A set of markings that creates the appearance of false edges and boundaries and hinders the detection or recognition of an object’s, or part of an object’s, true outline and shape.


The threat of predation has driven the evolution of diverse anti-predator adaptations in nature, of which camouflage – or concealment – is widespread. One striking form of camouflage is disruptive coloration, in which contrasting markings are used to break up and obscure an object’s appearance. First alluded to by the naturalist Poulton (1890), and later formalized by Thayer in Concealing Coloration in the Animal Kingdom (1909) and Cott in Adaptive Coloration in Animals (1940), the efficacy of disruptive coloration has been convincingly demonstrated across the natural world. From the banded wings of tropical butterflies, to the bold spots of isopods, to the changeable patterns of cuttlefish (Merilaita 1998; Hanlon et al. 2009), the study of disruptive coloration has advanced our...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Life and Environmental SciencesThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Caroline Leuchtenberger
    • 1
  1. 1.Federal Institute FarroupilhaPanambiBrasil