A1 Journal article (refereed)
The Eurasian Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris) has an effective camouflage against mammalian but not avian vision in boreal forests (2022)

Nokelainen, O., Helle, H., Hartikka, J., Jolkkonen, J., & Valkonen, J. K. (2022). The Eurasian Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris) has an effective camouflage against mammalian but not avian vision in boreal forests. Ibis, 164(3), 679-691. https://doi.org/10.1111/ibi.13056

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Nokelainen, Ossi; Helle, Heikki; Hartikka, Juho; Jolkkonen, Juho; Valkonen, Janne K.

Journal or series: Ibis

ISSN: 0019-1019

eISSN: 1474-919X

Publication year: 2022

Publication date: 17/02/2022

Volume: 164

Issue number: 3

Pages range: 679-691

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/ibi.13056

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Partially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/81855


A well-known example of visual camouflage in birds is the plumage coloration of the Eurasian Treecreeper Certhia familiaris, yet this species’ camouflage has never been objectively quantified. Here, we quantify treecreeper camouflage in its boreal forest habitat, test whether treecreepers better match tree backgrounds at nest site, territory or habitat spatial scales, and explore which common tree species provide the best background match. Using photographic data of the birds and forested backgrounds, we test their background match using human, ferret and avian vision modelling. We found that a treecreeper’s wing and mantle provided closest background matching, whereas the wing stripe and tail were more conspicuous against tree trunks. Vision modelling also suggests that treecreeper camouflage provides a better protection against mammalian than against avian vision. The matching was not significantly different across spatial scales in local spruce forests. However, the background match was better on conifers than deciduous trees. Our results support the longstanding conjecture of treecreeper camouflage, but also suggest that the camouflage is an adaptation especially against mammalian predators, which are important nest predators of treecreepers.

Keywords: common treecreeper; protective coloration; habitat; tree species

Free keywords: background matching; habitat selection; vision model; QCPA

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2022

Preliminary JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2022-20-09 at 13:53