Indirect effects of prey coloration on predation risk: Pygmy grasshoppers versus lizards

  • Civantos E
  • Ahnesjö J
  • Forsman A
 et al. 
  • 41


    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 15


    Citations of this article.


Because body temperature influences the physiology, behaviour and performance of ecto-thermic organisms, thermal conditions might influence the frequency and outcome of predator-prey interactions. Furthermore, differences in colour pattern among prey individuals may indirectly influence predation risk, through effects of coloration on body temperature. We performed staged encounters between lizards (Psammodromus algirus) and grasshoppers (Tetrix subulata). We painted the dorsal surface of grasshoppers either black or grey to manipulate their body temperature and behaviour, and exposed them to predation under two different thermal conditions (sun and shade). Grasshoppers were less active in the presence of a lizard, suggesting that they modified their behaviour to avoid detection. Lizards were more active and attacked the grasshoppers more frequently in the sun than in the shade. However, the proportion of unsuccessful attacks did not differ between sun and shade, suggesting that thermal environment did not influence the relative performance of predators and prey. In the sun, black grasshoppers were more active and tended to be attacked more frequently than grey ones, albeit not significantly so. However, mortality did not differ between black and grey individuals. This suggests that an elevated activity need not translate into increased predation if accompanied by enhanced escape performance. Conversely, individuals may compensate for a poor escape performance associated with low body temperatures by reducing activity. Our findings suggest that selection imposed by predators may favour certain combinations of prey coloration and behaviour, and that colour polymorphism in ectotherms may be influenced also by indirect effects of coloration on predation risk. Counter to intuition, the existence of such indirect effects raises the possibility that the evolution of prey coloration may be governed by selection imposed also by colour-blind or even totally blind predators.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Activity
  • Coloration
  • Grasshoppers
  • Lizards
  • Predation
  • Prey
  • Temperature

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document

  • ISSN: 15220613
  • PUI: 38362392
  • SGR: 1642322008
  • SCOPUS: 2-s2.0-1642322008
  • ISBN: 1522-0613
  • PMID: ISI:000220191200003


  • Emilio Civantos

  • Jonas Ahnesjö

  • Anders Forsman

  • José Martín

  • Pilar López

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free