Quantifying shape similarity between prey and uninteresting models to study animal masquerade

Fanrong Xiao, Rongping Bu, Haitao Shi
2020 Behaviour  
Masquerade occurs when an organism resembles an inedible or uninteresting object (model), such as a leaf, stick, or stone. The shapes of many species are described as similar to those of models in their microhabitats, but these similarities have not been quantified effectively. To describe the shape similarity between an animal and a model, we applied a shape description method in a field study of the four-eyed turtle (Sacalia quadriocellata). Our results showed that shape similarity between
more » ... milarity between turtles and stones in the Hezonggou River was significantly higher midstream than that upstream and downstream. In line with these findings, masquerade efficiency was highest for turtles in the midstream area, with both inexperienced and experienced human 'predators'. Masquerade efficiency was positively correlated with shape similarity in all stream sections. Shape similarity ranged from 0 to 1, with <0.65 indicating low masquerade efficiency and >0.80 indicating high masquerade efficiency. Our quantitative method was able to provide data that could be used to form an ecologically plausible argument; thus, shape similarity can be used to assess animal's masquerade efficiency. This method will be of considerable use in future animal masquerade research.
doi:10.1163/1568539x-bja10050 fatcat:6nz464svijf47n75jgqo6ttifm