Logo Logo
Switch Language to German

Rohr, Veronika A.; Volkmer, Tamara; Metzler, Dirk and Küpper, Clemens (2021): Neoptile feathers contribute to outline concealment of precocial chicks. In: Scientific Reports, Vol. 11, No. 1, 5483

Full text not available from 'Open Access LMU'.


Camouflage is a widespread strategy to increase survival. The cryptic plumage colouration of precocial chicks improves camouflage often through disruptive colouration. Here, we examine whether and how fringed neoptile feathers conceal the outline of chicks. We first conducted a digital experiment to test two potential mechanisms for outline concealment through appendages: (1) reduction of edge intensity and (2) luminance transition. Local Edge Intensity Analysis showed that appendages decreased edge intensity whereas a mean luminance comparison revealed that the appendages created an intermediate transition zone to conceal the object's outline. For edge intensity, the outline diffusion was strongest for a vision system with low spatial acuity, which is characteristic of many mammalian chick predators. We then analysed photographs of young snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus) chicks to examine whether feathers increase outline concealment in a natural setting. Consistent with better camouflage, the outline of digitally cropped chicks with protruding feathers showed lower edge intensities than the outline of chicks without those feathers. However, the observed mean luminance changes did not indicate better concealment. Taken together, our results suggest that thin skin appendages such as neoptile feathers improve camouflage. As skin appendages are widespread, this mechanism may apply to many organisms.

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item