The key difference between aposematic and cryptic coloration is that aposematic coloration increases the predator’s ability to detect the prey while cryptic coloration decreases the predator’s ability to detect the prey.
Animals show different colorations, which help them in making intraspecific mating behaviors, interspecific interactions and maintaining their physical states, etc. Moreover, there are different types of protective coloration patterns among animals. Many prey species have evolved protective colorations to reduce their chance of being eaten. Aposematic coloration and cryptic coloration are two types of protective colorations shown by animals.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Aposematic Coloration
3. What is Cryptic Coloration
4. Similarities Between Aposematic and Cryptic Coloration
5. Side by Side Comparison – Aposematic vs Cryptic Coloration in Tabular Form
What is Aposematic Coloration?
Aposematic coloration or warning coloration is a protective coloration shown especially by small animals including insects, mites, spiders, and frogs. These species tend to be colored brightly, and they carry a high detection risk. However, these prey species are often poisonous to eat because they produce toxic chemicals inside their bodies. This aposematic coloration helps the predators to remember these poisonous prey species and to avoid them in the future. However, some animals are able to mimic the color of poisonous species, without producing poisons.
What is Cryptic Coloration?
Cryptic coloration is a way of protective coloration. In fact, it is one of the three ways of achieving camouﬂage. In this coloration, the animal coloration hinders a predator’s ability to detect the prey. In simple words, cryptic coloration decreases the ability of the predator to detect the prey. It is done by matching the colors with the background, which hinders their detection or recognition.
For example, prey species often take the same color of leaves and twigs on which they rest. When they appear in the same color as the leaves and twigs, predators often fail to recognize them. However, cryptic coloration is successful only when the animal is resting.
What are the Similarities Between Aposematic and Cryptic Coloration?
- Aposematic and cryptic coloration are two functionally opposite protective coloration types shown by living organisms.
- Both types of colorations save prey species from predators.
- Therefore, they are a kind of defensive mechanism shown by animals.
- They are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
What is the Difference Between Aposematic and Cryptic Coloration?
Aposematic coloration is a defense mechanism in which prey species appear in bright colors in order to increase the predator’s ability to detect the prey. In contrast, cryptic coloration is another defense mechanism in which prey species take the same color of the leaves and twigs on which they rest in order to decrease the predator’s ability to detect the prey. So, this is the key difference between aposematic and cryptic coloration.
Moreover, another important difference between aposematic and cryptic coloration is that aposematic coloration carries a high detection risk, while cryptic coloration carries a very low detection risk.
Summary – Aposematic vs Cryptic Coloration
Aposematic coloration and cryptic coloration are two protective coloration mechanisms unique to some animals to avoid being eaten by predators. Aposematic coloration is a type of warning coloration in which prey species are brightly colored in order for predators to detect them. It is a way of increasing detectability. In contrast, cryptic coloration is a mechanism in which prey species hinder the predator’s ability to detect the prey. Often, prey species take the same color as the leaves or twigs on which they rest. So, this is the summary of the difference between aposematic and cryptic coloration.
1. Honma, Atsushi, et al. “Warning Coloration Can Be Disruptive: Aposematic Marginal Wing Patterning in the Wood Tiger Moth.” Ecology and Evolution, John Wiley and Sons Inc., 12 Oct. 2015, Available here.
2. “Mimicry, Camouflage, and Warning Coloration.” Biology Reference, Available here.
1. “Korreldragende-gifkikker-3” By Patrick Gijsbers – (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Plica rayi male in breeding coloration – ZooKeys-355-049-g010” -Photo credit Zelimir Cernelic. – Murphy J, Jowers M (2013) Treerunners, cryptic lizards of the Plica plica group (Squamata, Sauria, Tropiduridae) of northern South America. ZooKeys 355: 49-77. doi:10.3897/zookeys.355.5868 (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia