Recent research at the University of Exeter studies camouflage patterns of crabs. The paper titled ‘Background matching and disruptive coloration as habitat-specific strategies for camouflage’ was published in the journal, Scientific Reports.
Scientists revealed that crabs rely on different camouflage techniques depending on their habitat, for instance, crabs from mudflats closely matched the mud they live on, whereas rockpool crabs were dependent on ‘disruptive coloration’ in order to camouflage. Such crabs used high-contrast patterns to match the appearance of the body outline.
Researchers revealed that shore crabs were the most common crabs from Britain’s coastline. For the study the team examined crabs from six sites in Cornwall. Professor Martin Stevens from the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall said in a statement that, “The crabs are highly variable in color and pattern, and are often extremely difficult to see.” According to the reports, the team used image analysis simulation predator vision in order to test how shore crabs camouflage themselves.
The research concluded that rock pool crabs had higher levels of disruption. This was also one of the effective methods to disguise their body’s outline in the rock pool backgrounds when matching a color to the environment was not possible. On the other hand, mudflat crabs matched the color of their habitat, in terms of color, brightness, and pattern. They, however, lacked high-contrast disruptive markings and hence they cannot camouflage themselves in uniform mudflat environment, experts suggest.
A great amount of research has been carried in order to study the different use of camouflage types used by animals in different habitats. The tests have investigated the use of disruptive and background matching camouflage, where scientists suggest most of the work has been undertaken in artificial systems.