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Am Nat. 2013 May;181(5):690-9. doi: 10.1086/670016. Epub 2013 Mar 8.

Is the pirate really a ghost? Evidence for generalized chemical camouflage in an aquatic predator, pirate perch Aphredoderus sayanus.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas 79409, USA.


Camouflage occupies a central role in arsenals of both predators and prey and invokes visions of organisms possessing specific characteristics or altering their shape, color, or behavior to blend into the visual background or confound identification. However, many organisms use modalities other than vision. Chemical communication is particularly important in aquatic systems, and chemicals cues are used by a broad array of colonizing organisms to recognize and avoid risky habitats. Here we describe a habitat selection experiment with aquatic beetles and summarize results of 11 experiments involving colonizing beetles and ovipositing tree frogs that provide evidence that pirate perch Aphredoderus sayanus are chemically camouflaged with respect to a diverse array of prey organisms. We believe this to be the first example of a predator possessing a generalized chemical camouflage effective against a broad array of prey organisms, and we suggest that it may constitute a novel weapon in the predator-prey arms race.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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