Books  Evolutionary Biology  Evolution 

Concealing Coloration in Animals

By: Judy Diamond(Author), Alan B Bond(Author)

271 pages, 52 colour photos & b/w illustrations

Belknap Press

Hardback | Mar 2013 | #205875 | ISBN-13: 9780674052352
Availability: Usually dispatched within 4 days Details
NHBS Price: £22.95 $30/€25 approx

About this book

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.

"[...] In conclusion, the book has a rather ‘pop science’ feel, and will suit science undergraduates or scientifically inclined hobbyists rather than experts in the field, providing an excellent foundation course on concealing coloration in particular but also, more generally, on the concept of adaptation."
– Marie Pointer, Ibis (2014), 156, 478–489

"Combining a naturalist's eye with scientific rigor, the authors report on modern experiments on the mechanisms of the selective process that support these observations."
Kirkus Reviews

"This book is a lovely survey, for the general public, of all that is known about concealing coloration, and very nicely weaves the history of the subjects with the facts."
– John A. Endler, Professor of Sensory Ecology and Evolution, Deakin University, Australia



I. Concealment
    1. Disappearing Acts
    2. Mistaken Identity
    3. Pepper and Smoke
    4. Obscured by Patterns
II. Perception
    5. Colors in the Mind
    6. The Beholder’s Eye
III. Isolation
    7. Desert Islands
    8. Flowing Genes
IV. Detection
    9. Telltale Signs
    10. Psychology of Search
    11. Distinctively Different
    12. Limits to Invisibility

Guide to Common and Scientific Names

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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.

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