Effects of lepidopteran eyespot components on the deterrence of predatory birds

in Behaviour
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Circular markings, called eyespots, on the wings of Lepidoptera have been shown to be protective against predators. We tested the ‘conspicuousness-hypothesis’ and ‘eye mimicry-hypothesis’ by examining how ‘sparkle’ and colour pattern of eyespots deter predators. The rationale was to test the deterring effect of shape and colour pattern of the eyespots’ elements that are assumed to mimic lens eyes, namely iris, pupil, and sparkle by simultaneous exposure of lepidopteran dummies with equally conspicuous eyespots that differed in their similarity to lens eyes. The results provide evidence that circular and crescent-shaped ‘sparkles’ were more deterring than rectangular-shaped ‘sparkles’. The ‘sparkle’s’ UV-reflection had no effect on the deterrence. Our results support recent findings on the deterrent effect of the eyespot’s ‘sparkle’ and show that colour is less important for deterrence. The characteristic colour pattern of eyespots and illusion of three-dimensionality created by the ‘sparkle’ might contribute to the deterrent effect.

Effects of lepidopteran eyespot components on the deterrence of predatory birds

in Behaviour

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References

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Figures

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    Dummy types of field experiments. (A) Dummy types of experiment 1 with eyespots with crescent, rectangular and circular ‘sparkles’. One half of the dummies were pinned to trees with their ‘head’ pointing upwards, the other with their ‘head’ pointing downwards to test the effect of the crescent-shaped ‘sparkle’s’ alignment. (B) Dummy types of experiment 2 with naturally coloured eyespots and inverse eyespots. Half of the dummies were pinned to trees with their ‘head’ pointing upwards, the other with their ‘head’ pointing downwards to test the effect of the crescent-shaped ‘sparkle’s’ alignment. (C) Dummies of experiment 3. Dummies were printed on either UV-reflecting or UV-absorbing paper. This figure is published in colour in the online edition of this journal, which can be accessed via http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/1568539x.

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    Reflectance values (%) for the colors and papers used for the dummies of all experiments (measurements were made with a spectrometer USB 2000, D2H light source). White, reflectance values (%) measured for the eyespots’ white for dummies of experiment 1 and 2. Light grey, reflectance values (%) measured for the dummies’ grey of experiment 2. The grey was chosen to be intermediate between the black and the white used for the dummies’ eyespots to ensure equal contrast between the grey dummies’ background and the two eyespot types tested in experiment 2. Grey, reflectance values (%) measured for the dummies’ grey of experiment 1. Black, reflectance values (%) measured for the eyespots’ black for dummies of experiment 1 and 2. White (filter paper), reflectance values (%) measured for white of the UV-reflecting filter paper used for the dummies of experiment 3. This figure is published in colour in the online edition of this journal, which can be accessed via http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/1568539x.

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    Dummies of experiment 3 photographed under visible light (left) and UV-light (right). Dummy printed on UV-absorbing white paper in the top row and below dummy printed on UV-reflecting white filter paper. This figure is published in colour in the online edition of this journal, which can be accessed via http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/1568539x.

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    Survival of dummies with eyespots with circular, crescent and rectangular-shaped ‘sparkles’. Dummies were pinned to trees with either their ‘head’ pointing upwards or downwards to test the effect of the unnaturally aligned crescent-shaped ‘sparkle’.

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    Survival of dummies with naturally coloured and inverse eyespots from trial 1 of experiment 2. Inverse eyespots were considered unnatural because of their white ‘pupil’, black ‘iris’ and black ‘sparkle’.

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    Survival of dummies with naturally coloured and inverse eyespots from trial 2 of experiment 2. The dummies survival was considered depending on the ‘sparkles’ alignment, natural or unnatural, and the eyespots’ colour.

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    Survival of dummies with eyespots with UV-reflecting and UV-absorbing ‘sparkles’. For UV-sensitive beholders both dummies differ in their appearance. This figure is published in colour in the online edition of this journal, which can be accessed via http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/1568539x.

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