Camouflage and visual perception

Tom Troscianko, Chistopher P. Benton, P. George Lovell, David J. Tolhurst, Zygmunt Pizlo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

132 Citations (Scopus)


How does an animal conceal itself from visual detection by other animals? This review paper seeks to identify general principles that may apply in this broad area. It considers mechanisms of visual encoding, of grouping and object encoding, and of search. In most cases, the evidence base comes from studies of humans or species whose vision approximates to that of humans. The effort is hampered by a relatively sparse literature on visual function in natural environments and with complex foraging tasks. However, some general constraints emerge as being potentially powerful principles in understanding concealment—a ‘constraint’ here means a set of simplifying assumptions. Strategies that disrupt the unambiguous encoding of discontinuities of intensity (edges), and of other key visual attributes, such as motion, are key here. Similar strategies may also defeat grouping and object-encoding mechanisms. Finally …
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449-461
Number of pages13
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1516
Early online date6 Nov 2008
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Camouflage
  • Vision
  • Edges
  • Motion
  • Search
  • Object recognition


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