Macquarie University
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Flash colours, frogs and the language of escape

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posted on 2024-02-28, 04:45 authored by Katherine Margaret Potter

Flash colours are typically defined as concealed, bright, or contrasting patches, revealed in movement, and associated with antipredator tactics. They are part of a collection of sensory modalities that are the foundation of flash behaviour, however, linguistic ambiguity and limited testing of hypotheses mean that their function is poorly understood. To rectify these issues, I conducted a systematic review resolving terminological synonymy across taxonomic groups and categorising hypotheses for improved future discoverability and comparison. I then conducted experiments with avian predators and simulated prey to determine if deployment of flash colours during escape affects naïve predator foraging behaviour. These experiments were based on frog escape behaviour and included visual modelling of green and golden bell frog flash colours. Results of the visual modelling demonstrated that both the frog flash colours and the colour used for the simulated targets were conspicuous to the visual perception range of an average avian predator. Surprisingly though, on comparing the response of domestic chicks to a moving coloured target and a moving camouflaged target, I found that it took chicks significantly longer to respond to the camouflaged target. While preliminary, my results suggest that further experimentation is necessary to improve our understanding of flash behaviour.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Flash colours, flash behaviour and the role of colour as an antipredator tactic -- Chapter 2: Testing the viability of flash behaviour as an antipredator tactic for frogs -- References -- Supplementary materials

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


Master of Research

Department, Centre or School

School of Natural Sciences

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Martin Whiting

Additional Supervisor 1

Chris Jolly


Copyright: The Author Copyright disclaimer:




55 pages

Former Identifiers

AMIS ID: 280848

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