Camouflage refers to the term disguise. It is a natural phenomenon used by plants and animals to disguise themselves as per their environment. They mimic according to their surroundings to avoid detection. Thus it increases the chance of survival by hiding it from predators.
Camouflage is the natural defence mechanism developed in the prey. During this phenomenon, animals change their skin colour or disguise themselves as per their surrounding colour so that they cannot be detected by other predators. Certain predators also use this mechanism for hunting.
For instance, Stone Flounder, a flatfish, is one such predator which lays on the ocean floor and keeps searching for prey.
There are numerous species on the Earth. All species not only coexist but also depend on each other for their survival. For instance-
- Plants need soil microbes to decompose organic matter into inorganic nutrients which are very much essential for their growth.
- Plants depend on insects and birds for pollination.
This is a reverse process. Just like plants depend on animals, animals to depend on plants, directly or indirectly for food and oxygen. Thus in the ecosystem, abiotic, biotic components, plants, animals and microbes interact and depends on each other.
When populations of two different species interact, this leads to interspecific interactions. Such interaction might be either beneficial or cause harm or have a neutral effect on other species of the community.
Camouflage is mainly used by animals to:
- Hide from their predators.
- Make it difficult for their prey to escape and sneak up.
- Use colouring and markings to blend into their environments.
Camouflage in animals are grouped into 4 basic types:
Concealing Colouration: Most of the forest habitat animals are brown and animals of Arctic and tundra region are white. Here animal hides against a background of the same colour in order to protect themselves from predators and also for hunting their prey.
- Few animals like snowshoe hare, found in North American regions change their body colour to hide from its prey-lynx. These species are usually white in winter and their fur changes to brown during summer by shedding their fur.
- Chameleons change their colour to hide and to reflect their mood.
- Octopus can change both colour and their skin texture.
Disruptive Colouration: The dark spots or stripes found on the animal’s skin are mainly used to camouflage themselves and to escape from their predators.
- A group of zebras heaving together looks like a large mass to a lion. This makes hard for a lion to attack them.
- Predators like leopards and tigers have this disruptive colouration that helps in moving or hiding in between the branches before attacking its prey.
Disguise: The change in their appearance or colour which gets the blend with their surroundings by their colour, texture and shape.
- This type of camouflage is mainly seen in insects like spiders, leaf butterfly, dragonfly katydid, stick bugs or stick insect, etc.
Mimicry: Most of the animals copycat or mimic other animals to fool and escape from their predators. The mimicry can either be in appearance or behaviour or sound or odour.
Viceroy butterflies mimic monarch butterfly to safeguard them from their predators –like birds.Birds never attack monarch butterfly as they are poisonous.
To learn more about camouflage and camouflage uses in plants, visit Byju’s.