The anti-predator function of ‘eyespots’ on camouflaged and conspicuous prey

  title={The anti-predator function of ‘eyespots’ on camouflaged and conspicuous prey},
  author={Martin Stevens and Claire L. Stubbins and Chloe J. Hardman},
  journal={Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology},
Animals utilise various strategies to reduce the risk of predation, including camouflage, warning colours and mimicry, and many of these protective signals promote avoidance behaviour in predators. For example, various species possess paired circular ‘eyespots’, which startle or intimidate predators, preventing or halting an attack. However, little is known of how the efficacy of such signals relates to the context in which they are found, and no studies have tested the relative effectiveness… 
Eyespots interact with body colour to protect caterpillar-like prey from avian predators
A direct comparison of the effectiveness of two anti‐predator strategies under field conditions
When partially consumed prey and those that had been completely removed were both treated as attacked by predators, there were no differences in attack rates between targets with the two defensive strategies, which suggests that prey may experience highly variable predation in the wild.
Deflective effect and the effect of prey detectability on anti-predator function of eyespots
It is concluded that deflective function may select for eyespots, and background may influence the deterring function of eyespots.
Fixed eyespot display in a butterfly thwarts attacking birds
On the deterring effect of a butterfly’s eyespot in juvenile and sub-adult chickens
An intimidating effect of the type of eyespot that has been shown only to divert attacks is demonstrated, suggesting that one and the same eyespot may serve two functions relative to different predators; however, further experiments are needed to disentangle the role of predator identity and its link to size, experience and experience.
Conspicuous colours reduce predation rates in fossorial uropeltid snakes
Support is provided for the hypothesis that the conspicuous colours of these snakes reduce predation, possibly because these colours advertise unprofitability due to long handling times.
Anti-predator adaptations and strategies in the Lepidoptera
This thesis examines visual anti-predator strategies employed by the Lepidoptera and investigates a factor often over looked in the study of crypsis, that of the behavioural adaptations that can enhance its efficiency.
An Investigation into the Ecology and Evolution ofCaterpillar Eyespots
It is argued that caterpillar eyespots have evolved to serve a mimetic function and were generated and are currently maintained by the innate fear of predator eyes harboured to varying degrees by numerous species of insect-eating birds.
Eyespot display in the peacock butterfly triggers antipredator behaviors in naïve adult fowl
The results show that birds typically fled when peacock butterflies performed their display regardless of whether eyespots were visible or painted over, and suggest that predators perceive large lepidopteran eyespots as belonging to the eyes of a potential predator.
Visual warning signals of the ladybird Harmonia axyridis: the avian predators’ point of view
It is can be summed up that spots are of some importance in the protection of ladybirds; nevertheless, red and black colouration is the main part of the visual signal.


Conspicuousness, not eye mimicry, makes "eyespots" effective antipredator signals
Three experiments find that the features which make effective antipredator wing markings are large size and higher numbers of spots, which support other recent work indicating that conspicuousness, and not eye mimicry, is important in promoting avoidance behavior in predators and that eyespots on real animals need not necessarily, as most accounts claim, mimic the eyes of other animals.
Field experiments on the effectiveness of ‘eyespots’ as predator deterrents
The role of eyespots as anti‐predator mechanisms, principally demonstrated in the Lepidoptera
  • M. Stevens
  • Environmental Science
    Biological reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society
  • 2005
The role of eyespots as antipredator mechanisms has been discussed since the 19th Century and the necessity to consider the potential influence of sexual selection on lepidopteran wing patterns, and the genetics and development of eyespot formation is highlighted.
Experimental Approaches to Studying the Initial Evolution of Conspicuous Aposematic Signalling
This review will examine the problems of studying the costs and benefits of conspicuousness as well as the initial evolution of conspicuousity and the recent progress in the study of aposematism.
Disruptive coloration provides camouflage independent of background matching
Determining bird predation of artificial moths, it is found that moths which were dissimilar from the background but sported disruptive patterns on the edge of their wings survived better in heterogeneous habitats than did moths with the same patterns inside of the wings and better than cryptic moths.
Predator perception and the interrelation between different forms of protective coloration
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  • Art
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • 2007
This paper outlines how different forms of protective markings can be understood from predator perception and illustrates how this is fundamental in determining the mechanisms underlying, and the interrelation between, different strategies.
Aposematic coloration, luminance contrast, and the benefits of conspicuousness
The results suggest that the luminance contrast component of aposematic coloration can be an effective warning signal between the prey and predator, and can even evolve as an effective signal to color blind predators.
Prey survival by predator intimidation: an experimental study of peacock butterfly defence against blue tits
The results showed that eyespots alone, or in combination with sound, constituted an effective defence; only 1 out of 34 butterflies with intact eyespots was killed, whereas 13 out of 20 butterflies without eyespots were killed, indicating that they are not distasteful.
The Function of Eyespot Patterns in the Lepidoptera
It has been shown that many small passerines possess inborn responses to their predators, and it is probable that these are "parasitised" by the eyespot patterns of insects.
Does predation maintain eyespot plasticity in Bicyclus anynana?
The results show that natural selection acts against eyespots in the dry season, favouring crypsis, whereas in the wet season it may favour eyespots as deflective patterns.