The confusion effect - the decreased attack-to-kill ratio of a predator with increase in prey group size - is thought to be one of the main reasons for the evolution of group living in animals. Despite much interest, the influence of prey coloration on the confusion effect is not well understood. We hypothesized that dynamic colour change in motion (due to interference coloration or flash marks), seen widely in many group living animals, enhances the confusion effect. Utilizing a virtual tracking task with humans, we found targets that dynamically changed colour during motion were more difficult to track than targets with background matching patterns, and this effect was stronger at larger group sizes. The current study thus provides the first empirical evidence for the idea that dynamic colour change can benefit animals in a group and may explain the widespread occurrence of dynamic colorations in group-living animals.
ASJC Scopus subject areas