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Data from: Seasonal plasticity in anti-predatory strategies: matching of color and color preference for effective crypsis


van Bergen, Erik; Beldade, Patricia (2019), Data from: Seasonal plasticity in anti-predatory strategies: matching of color and color preference for effective crypsis, Dryad, Dataset,


Effective anti-predatory strategies typically require matching appearance and behavior in prey, and there are many compelling examples of behavioral repertoires that enhance the effectiveness of morphological defenses. When protective adult morphology is induced by developmental environmental conditions predictive of future predation risk, adult behavior should be adjusted accordingly to maximize predator avoidance. While behavior is typically strongly affected by the adult environment, developmental plasticity in adult behavior — mediated by the same pre-adult environmental cues that affect morphology — could ensure an effective match between anti-predatory morphology and behavior. The coordination of environmentally-induced responses may be especially important in populations exposed to predictable environmental fluctuations (e.g. seasonality). Here, we studied early and late life environmental effects on a suite of traits expected to work together for effective crypsis. We focused on wing color and background color preference in Bicyclus anynana, a model of developmental plasticity that relies on crypsis as a seasonal strategy for predator avoidance. Using a full-factorial design, we disentangled effects of developmental and adult ambient temperature on both appearance and behavior. We showed that developmental conditions affect both adult color and color preference, with temperatures that simulate natural dry season conditions leading to browner butterflies with a perching preference for brown backgrounds. This effect was stronger in females, especially when butterflies were tested at lower ambient temperatures. In contrast to the expectation that motionlessness enhances crypsis, we found no support for our hypothesis that the browner dry-season butterflies would be less active. We argue that the integration of developmental plasticity for morphological and behavioral traits might improve the effectiveness of seasonal anti-predatory strategies.

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