Body size and evolution of motion dazzle coloration in lizards

Gopal Murali, Ullasa Kodandaramaiah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


"Motion dazzle" patterns are a form of defensive coloration suggested to prevent successful capture during motion by causing predators to misjudge the direction or speed of prey movement. Several studies have found results supporting this idea but little is known about the factors that favor the evolution of these antipredator colorations. A recent experimental study has suggested that the longitudinal striped patterns on the body of lizards can redirect attacks to the tail via the motion dazzle effect. Using a virtual predation experiment with humans and a phylogenetic comparative analysis, we show that evolution of longitudinal striped coloration is associated with prey size. Experiments showed that longitudinal stripes located at the anterior reduced lethal attacks (i.e., attacks directed to the anterior and centre) but this benefit was greater for shorter prey. Our comparative analysis revealed a negative association between stripe occurrence and body length but no association between stripes and body width. Overall, our results suggest that the dazzle effect produced by stripes is more advantageous in shorter lizards than in longer ones and that the error induced by stripes might be distributed along the axis parallel to the prey trajectory. We discuss reasons why dazzle coloration could be associated with evolution of smaller body size in animals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-86
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioral Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 13 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • antipredator adaption
  • lizards
  • motion dazzle
  • prey size
  • redirection
  • stripes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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