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Camouflage is an important component of antipredator behaviors. In many species, rapid color change provides plasticity in camouflage as animals move through their environments. As rapid color change can also play a role in other aspects of behavior such as territory defense and courtship, an experimental approach is required to determine color change’s function. In the Anolis genus, rapid color change is a signal in social interactions, but why color changes as anoles move through different microhabitats is not well explored. Anolis aquaticus has a rapid dark-to-light color change with an unknown function. We tested the hypothesis that A. aquaticus uses color change for camouflage in an experimental field study. A. aquaticus were tethered in multiple microhabitats, and standardized images were collected of their body coloration and substrates. We examined if anole color change represented camouflage as perceived by a predator (bird) by creating vision models corrected for their retinal processing. We discuss our results with respect to antipredator strategies, and we use literature on Anolis behavior to interpret our findings in light of evolution.



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In the Eyes of the Beholder: Rapid Body Color Change Provides Facultative Crypsis in a Lizard