Cognition contra camouflage: How the brain mediates predator-driven crypsis evolution

Wen Bo Liao*, Ying Jiang, Da Yong Li, Long Jin, Mao Jun Zhong, Yin Qi, Stefan Lüpold, Alexander Kotrschal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


While crypsis is a prominent antipredator adaptation, the role of the brain in predator-driven evolution remains controversial. Resolving this controversy requires contextualizing the brain with established antipredator traits and predation pressure. We hypothesize that the reduced predation risk through crypsis relaxes predation-driven selection on the brain and provide comparative evidence across 102 Chinese frog species for our hypothesis. Specifically, our phylogenetic path analysis reveals an indirect relationship between predation risk and crypsis that is mediated by brain size. This result suggests that at a low predation risk, frogs can afford to be conspicuous and use their large brain for cognitive predator evasion. This strategy may become less efficient or energetically costlier under higher predation pressure, favoring smaller brains and instead increasing crypsis.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereabq1878
Pages (from-to)1-10
JournalScience Advances
Issue number33
Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 2022


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