A1 Journal article (refereed)
Camouflage in arid environments : the case of Sahara-Sahel desert rodents (2020)

Nokelainen, O., Sreelatha, L. B., Brito, J. C., Campos, J. C., Scott-Samuel, N. E., Valkonen, J. K., & Boratyński, Z. (2020). Camouflage in arid environments : the case of Sahara-Sahel desert rodents. Journal of Vertebrate Biology, 69(2), 1-12. https://doi.org/10.25225/jvb.20007

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Nokelainen, Ossi; Sreelatha, Lekshmi B.; Brito, José Carlos; Campos, João C.; Scott-Samuel, Nicholas E.; Valkonen, Janne K.; Boratyński, Zbyszek

Journal or series: Journal of Vertebrate Biology

ISSN: 2694-7684

eISSN: 2694-7684

Publication year: 2020

Publication date: 12/08/2020

Volume: 69

Issue number: 2

Pages range: 1-12

Publisher: Institute of Vertebrate Biology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic

Publication country: Czechia

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.25225/jvb.20007

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Open Access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/71475


Deserts and semi-deserts, such as the Sahara-Sahel region in North Africa, are exposed environments with restricted vegetation coverage. Due to limited physical surface structures, these open areas provide a promising ecosystem to understand selection for crypsis. Here, we review knowledge on camouflage adaptation in the Sahara-Sahel rodent community, which represents one of the best documented cases of phenotype-environment convergence comprising a marked taxonomic diversity. Through their evolutionary history, several rodent species from the Sahara-Sahel have repeatedly evolved an accurate background matching against visually-guided predators. Top-down selection by predators is therefore assumed to drive the evolution of a generalist, or compromise, camouflage strategy in these rodents. Spanning a large biogeographic extent and surviving repeated climatic shifts, the community faces extreme and heterogeneous selective pressures, allowing formulation of testable ecological hypotheses. Consequently, Sahara-Sahel rodents poses an exceptional system to investigate which adaptations facilitate species persistence in a mosaic of habitats undergoing climatic change. Studies of these widely distributed communities permits general conclusions about the processes driving adaptation and can give insights into how diversity evolves.

Keywords: protective coloration; predators; prey; deserts; rodents

Free keywords: Africa; background matching; crypsis; predation; protective colouration

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Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2020

JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2023-03-10 at 15:00