Lab Manual Exercise #10B
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Photos Of Ecological Adaptations #1

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Photos Of Ecological Adaptations #2
Photos Of Ecological Adaptations #3

Table Of Contents:

    1.   Camouflage (Cryptic)   
    2.   Disruptive Markings       
    3.   Warning Coloration       
    3.   Mating Coloration       
    5.   Batesian Mimicry       
    6.   Automimicry       
    7.   Xerarch Succession
    8.   Hydrarch Succession
    9.   Forest Succession
  10.   Retrogression
  11.   Major Biomes of N. America

1. Camouflage

Cryptic: Concealing form and coloration which enables a species to avoid its natural predators by camouflage. Good examples of this adaptation are the katydid, walking stick and tomato hornworm. The spittlebug secretes a foamy mass to conceal itself on a branchlet. An interesting resident bird of the alpine tundra is remarkably camouflaged by seasonal coloration. During the summer months the plumage is a mottled brownish color. During winter, when the ground is covered with snow, the plumage is snow white.

See The Remarkable Camouflage In Leafhoppers

Two examples of camouflage in San Diego County: A canyon tree frog (Hyla californiae) on granodiorite canyon wall (left) and a desert horned lizard (Phrynosoma platyrhinos) on a sandy riverbed.

See The Camouflaged Larva Of A Hawkmoth
See The Strange Foamy Froth Of A Spittlebug

Two camouflaged pit vipers in San Diego County. Left: Red diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus ruber ssp. ruber). Right: Southern Pacific rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis ssp. helleri)

Southern Pacific rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis ssp. helleri).

Two examples of camouflage in dry brush: A walking stick insect and a preying mantis. Some preying mantises are green and match green vegetation.

Walking stick photographed at the San Diego Wild Animal Park.

See Another Image Of A Walking Stick
See Another Image Of A Preying Mantis

Left: Can you spot the nesting rock ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus) in this photo? Right: Close-up view of the ptarmigan in left photo. Photos taken by Dr. R.J. Vogl in the Rocky Mountains of Montana. During the winter months, this resident bird of the alpine tundra has white plumage.

These two katydids sitting on a tomato plant are well camouflaged. Note the veins in the wings that resemble leaves. Katydids are grasshopper relatives in the insect order Orthoptera.

A well-camouflaged cicada. This insect belongs to the order Homoptera, along with aphids, spittle bugs and the remarkable lanternfly. Males are difficult to spot even when producing their high frequency mating call.

See The Strange Spittle Bug
See The Remarkable Lanternfly

A green geometrid moth (family Geometridae) on the leaf of an tangelo tree (C. x tangelo). The larva of this moth is the infamous "measuring worm." Unlike the resting position of other moths, this species holds its wings at right angles to the body, closely appressed to the substrate.

A crab spider (family Thomisidae) sitting in its abush position on the flower head of Hulsea californica. This interesting composite is endemic to San Diego County. Photo taken along the crest of the Laguna Mountains.

An ambush bug (Phymata fasciata) on the inflorescence of a lantana cultivar (Lantana montevidensis). This camouflaged little bug (order Heteroptera) is a fierce predator and may capture insects much larger than itself. With is strong raptorial forelegs it grasps it prey while injecting venom with it tubular sucking mouthparts. I have seen an ambush bug kill a honeybee in a flower. According to Thomas Eisner (For Love of Insects, 2003), ambush bugs caught in the webs of orb weaver spiders (Argiope aurantia) actually killed their capters by biting the spiders in their legs.

See Close-up View Of A Remarkable Ambush Bug

A well-camouflaged flatfish. Flatfishes include about 130 American species which are subdivided into two major groups, the soles and flounders. Both groups includes familiar food fish such as sole, flounder, sand dabs and halibut. They have evolved some unique adaptations for life on the sandy ocean bottom. Their eyes have migrated to the same side of the head, either left or right depending on the species. The are also able to change their color patterns to match the bottom. On a black and white checkerboard background some species can develop dark and light areas to match the squares in the checkerboard.

A well-camouflaged stonefish in the shallow water of Tetiaroa Atoll in French Polynesia. The dorsal spine of this fish can inflict a painful toxin. Accidentally stepping on one of these fish can ruin a vacation trip to these lovely islands.

Can you spot the pipefish in this bed of eelgrass?

Leafy sea dragon (Phycodurus eques), one of the most remarkable examples of camouflage in the animal kingdom. Native to southern Australia, this fish is difficult to distinguish from leafy seaweeds. In fact, at first glance it is hard to tell that it is a fish. Sea dragons belong to the order Solenichthyes, along with sea horses and pipefish. A faint, transparent, dorsal fin is barely discernable in the photo.

 More Images Of Sea Dragons 

Click on the photograph to see this unusual insect on a leaf.

The walking leaf insect (Phyllium pulchrifolium), a member of the family Phyllidae in the order Orthoptera. This remarkable walking stick relative is native to Indonesia and Malaysia. There are several color variations that perfectly match the foliage of trees and shrubs..

The Malaysian "jungle nymph" Heteropteryx dilatata is one of the largest insects on earth. Females, such as the one shown above, may reach 15 cm in body length (excluding the long antennae). Males are smaller and brownish in coloration. Both sexes of these harmless herbivores are well-camouflaged in the tropical rain forest.

Eurycantha horrida, a well-camouflaged stick insect from Papua, New Guinea.

Click on the photograph to see this unusual insect on a leafy background.

A giant prickly stick insect (Extatosoma tiaratum), a member of the walking stick family Phasmidae in the order Orthoptera. This remarkable walking stick is native to Australia and New Guinea. Large females such as this can be up to six inches long (more than 15 cm). The longest stick insect was discovered in the rainforest canopy of Borneo by Malaysian naturalist Datuk Chan Chew Lun. Including body and legs it measure 22.3 inches (56.6 cm)! It has been named Phobaeticus chani, meaning Chan's megastick.

This "giant dead leaf mantis" (Deroplatys dessicata) of Malaysia is well-camouflaged to avoid being eaten by its predators. Its resemblance to dead leaves also serves to ambush its own prey.

2. Disruptive Markings

Disruptive Markings: The markings on some insects, reptiles and mammals make it difficult to distinguish them from shadows and branches or from other members clustered together. The stripes on a zebra may appear quite distinctive, but to a colorblind lioness it is difficult to single out an individual zebra among a dense population in the African grasslands.

A zebra in the wild in South Africa. The disruptive markings make it difficult for a predator (lioness) to single out an individual zebra among a herd. Click on photo to see the way a lioness views the zebra (in black & white).

3. Warning Coloration

Warning Coloration: Insects with an obnoxious quality (at least to would-be predators), such as bad taste, bad smell or powerful sting, often exhibit bright colors to warn of their presence. Warning coloration is well developed in the insect order Hymenoptera, including bees and wasps. Small poison dart frogs of the tropical rain forest also exhibit warning coloration. These frogs contain very toxic neurotoxic alkaloids in their skin. Their coloration (called aposematic coloration) is an adaptation for diurnal foraging in which predators can easily recognize and avoid these posonous amphibians.

A strawberry poison dart frog Dendrobates pumilio. This strikingly beautiful species is native to tropical rain forests of Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. The bright coloration of these frogs is considered by some biologists to be an example of "warning coloration" (aposematic coloration), where would-be predators avoid the frogs because of their bitter, toxic, alkaloid secretions. This avoidance behavior is especially true if the predator has had a previous unpleasant encounter with these brightly colored frogs.

See Colorful Poison Dart Frogs

Some insects display bright colorations and appear ominous even though they are relatively harmless. This Malaysian relative of the grasshopper (Sanaa intermedia) looks ferocious but is really quite docile. What appears to be a stinger at the posterior end of the abdomen is the egg-laying device (ovipositor) of a female.

Click on the photograph to see the underside of wings fully opened.

A female owl butterfly (Caligo sp.) in its natural pose. The underside of each hind wing has a prominent "eye spot" that is visible when the wings are held upright in the resting position. There is some speculation about the adaptive advantage of the eye spot: Does it serve to scare away would-be predators, or is it a target that suddenly disappears when the insect flies away? The eye spots were once thought to mimic an owl, but this would only work if the insect sat upside down with its wings opened, which it doesn't.

4. Mating Coloration

Mating Coloration: Bright colorations among the males of some animals (particularly the plumage of birds) gives the male a definite advantage in sexual selection and mate attraction. Mating coloration and behavior of the most "fit" and aggressive males serves to stabilize the population density because only the most sexually select males are able to mate with females of the species.

Left: A male frigatebird (Fregata magnificens) photographed on North Semour Island in the Galapagos Archipelago. The male uses his bright red, inflated throat pouch (gular sac) to attract a female. The male sits in the branches of a tree or shrub and waits for a female to fly over. On sighting a female he turns his head up to expose his red pouch, shakes his wing vigorously and makes a loud, resonating courtship call. If the female is impressed she will land next to him. Right: The brightly colored, upper tail feathers of a peacock (Pavo cristatus). During courtship behavior these beautiful feathers are displayed in a fan to the peahen.

The beautiful upper tail feathers of a peacock (Pavo cristatus).

See A Colorful Male Wood Duck
See A Male & Female Mallard Duck
Ravenous Catfish Swimming With Ducks

5. Batesian & Mullerian Mimicry

Mimicry: One insect (called a mimic) that is perfectly palatable to its predator resembles another insect (called the model) that is quite disagreeable to the same predator. There are actually two types of mimicry: Batesian and Mullerian. Mimicry in which the mimic is essentially defenseless is called Batesian Mimicry. A harmless moth (Aegeria) is a Batesian mimic because it is incapable of stinging another animal, but yet it resembles the yellow jacket wasp (Vespula). Mimicry in which the mimic shares the same defensive mechanism as the model is called Mullerian mimicry. The yellow jacket wasp and bumblebee (Bombus) are Mullerian mimics because they both have bright yellow and black colors and use powerful stings as a defensive mechanism.

Batesian mimicry: One of these insects is a stinging honeybee and the other is a harmless fly that mimics the bee. Although the fly cannot sting, it greatly resembles the bee. Because of this remarkable resemblance, some of the fly's predators tend to leave it alone. Can you tell which insect is the bee?

Adult Monarch Butterfly
Danaus plexippus
Family: Nymphalidae

Because of an accumulation of steroidal glycosides during its larval feeding stage, the adult Monarch butterfly is toxic and distasteful. Insect-eating birds soon recognize this brightly colored species and reject it as a food source. Another butterfly with similar colorations and markings is the Viceroy (Basilarchia archippus). For many years, textbooks cited the Monarch and Viceroy as a classic example of Batesian mimicry, in which the Viceroy mimic was perfectly palatable to would-be predators. Recent studies indicate that the Viceroy is not an acceptable meal for birds, and therefore these two species represent an example of Mullerian mimicry.

This moth resembles a wasp. Is this an example of Batesian or Mullerian mimicry?

6. Automimicry

In automimicry, an animal mimics parts of its own body. For example, some snakes have a tail that resembles their head and a head that resemble their tail. A predatory bird swooping down on its prey might miss its capture when the prey suddenly moves in an unexpected (backwards) direction.
Automimicry is well developed in Malaysian lanternflies of the large insect order Homoptera. Since they are not true flies of the order Diptera, the word fly is not written as a separate word. [If they were true flies, their common name would be written as lantern fly.] Some of these remarkable insects have tails with false eyes and antennae, and heads with false tails. The false tail is actually a long extension of the head between the eyes. What appears to be the front is really the rear end and vice versa. When the insect moves it appears to jump backwards.

See A Cicada: Another Member Of The Order Homoptera

Some authors have suggested that enhanced human characteristics are also examples of automimicry. Desmond Morris argued in The Naked Ape (1967) that enlarged breasts of human females (compared with other primates) are buttocks mimics involved in sexual attraction and copulatory behavior. This is a rather controversial subject that is beyond the scope of the Wayne's Word ecology unit.

A lanternfly (Pyrops candelaria) native to the rain forests of Thailand.

Notice the elongate extension of the head between the eyes. In some species of lanternflies, the head mimics the tail and vice versa, a good example of automimicry. The elongate head of lanternflies was once thought to emit light, but this is not the case.

Another Remarkable Lanternfly

A striking South American lanternfly (Phosphora lanternaria). The enlarged head extension mimics the head of a small alligator. Of course, this is not an example of automimicry. Some authorities have suggested that the reptilian head may ward off an attack by potential predators of this plant-eating insect.

The front end of the gator lanternfly (Phosphora lanternaria) appears formidable with a large head and teeth markings. Although it looks ferocious, this is a plant-eating insect.

In addition to resembling an alligator with teeth, the head of this South American lanternfly (Phosphora lanternaria) also resembles a peanut; however, it is doubtful that any adaptive advantage can be gained by mimicking a peanut. These mimics are the derivation of the common names "gator" lanternfly and "peanut" lanternfly.

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