Orientation to the sun by animals and its interaction with crypsis

Olivier Penacchio, Innes Cuthill, Paul George Lovell, Graeme Douglas Ruxton, Julie Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


1. Orientation with respect to the sun has been observed in a wide range of species and has generally been interpreted in terms of thermoregulation and/or UV protection. For countershaded animals, orientation with respect to the sun may also result from the pressure to exploit the gradient of coloration optimally to enhance crypsis.
2. Here we use computational modelling to predict the optimal countershading pattern for an oriented body. We assess how camouflage performance declines as orientation varies using a computational model that incorporates realistic lighting environments.
3. Once an optimal countershading pattern for crypsis has been chosen, we determine separately how ultra-violet protection/irradiation and solar thermal inflow fluctuate with orientation.
4. We show that body orientations that could optimally use countershading to enhance crypsis are very similar to those that allow optimal solar heat inflow and ultra-violet protection.
5. Our findings suggest that crypsis has been overlooked as a selective pressure on orientation and that new experiments should be designed to tease apart the respective roles of these different selective pressures. We propose potential experiments that could achieve this.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1165-1177
JournalFunctional Ecology
Issue number9
Early online date20 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015


  • Body orientation
  • Camouflage
  • Countershading
  • Crypsis
  • Thermal melanism
  • Thermoregulation
  • Ultra-violet protection


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