A1 Journal article (refereed)
The effect of spatial and temporal scale on camouflage in North African rodents (2022)

Macedo, T., Campos, J. C., Nokelainen, O., Scott-Samuel, N. E., & Boratyński, Z. (2022). The effect of spatial and temporal scale on camouflage in North African rodents. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 137(3), 523-533. https://doi.org/10.1093/biolinnean/blac107

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editorsMacedo, Tiago; Campos, João Carlos; Nokelainen, Ossi; Scott-Samuel, Nicholas E; Boratyński, Zbyszek

Journal or seriesBiological Journal of the Linnean Society



Publication year2022

Publication date14/09/2022


Issue number3

Pages range523-533

PublisherOxford University Press (OUP)

Publication countryUnited Kingdom

Publication languageEnglish


Publication open accessNot open

Publication channel open access

Publication is parallel published (JYX)https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/83952


Background matching, a common form of camouflage, is a widespread anti-predator adaptation that hinders detection or recognition by increasing the resemblance of prey to its environment. However, the natural environment is complex and both spatially and temporally variable, which constrains effective background matching as an anti-predator strategy. Here, using remote sensing data (publicly available satellite imagery), we investigated how variation of habitat parameters predicts background matching in 16 Sahara–Sahel rodent species across spatial and temporal scales. All fur colour parameters (hue, saturation and brightness) strongly matched the respective habitats of the different species. Background matching in terms of hue was best at the microscale, whereas results for saturation and brightness showed more variation across spatial scales among species. Camouflage across the temporal scale (from 1 to 3 years before capture) was variable among species for all colour parameters. These complex interactions suggest that, in desert rodents, colour parameters are differentially sensitive to the respective scale of the habitat, plausibly reflecting the behaviour and life history of the species and the ecological properties determining their activity patterns. Consequently, the division between habitat (camouflage) generalists and specialists might become blurred in temporally changing and spatially variable environments.

Keywordshabitatadaptation (change)protective colorationrodentsdesertsenvironmental changesspatial analysissatellite images

Free keywordsadaptation; background matching; crypsis; cryptic coloration; desert; generalist; rodents; Sahara–Sahel; specialist

Contributing organizations

Ministry reportingYes

Reporting Year2022

JUFO rating1

Last updated on 2024-15-06 at 21:06