List of camouflage methods

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Camouflage is the concealment of animals or objects of military interest by any combination of methods that helps them to remain unnoticed. This includes the use of high-contrast disruptive patterns as used on military uniforms, but anything that delays recognition can be used as camouflage. Camouflage involves deception, whether by looking like the background or by resembling something else, which may be plainly visible to observers.[1][2]

Elaborately camouflaged frogfish on ocean floor
Striated frogfish, Antennarius striatus, is elaborately camouflaged for life on the subtropical ocean floor.

Different camouflage methods employed by terrestrial, aerial, and aquatic animals, and in military usage, are compared in the table. Several methods are often combined, so for example the Bushbuck is both countershaded over its whole body, and disruptively coloured with small pale spots. Until the discovery of countershading in the 1890s, protective coloration was considered to be mainly a matter of colour matching,[3] but while this is certainly important, a variety of other methods are used to provide effective camouflage.[1][2]

When an entry is marked Dominant, that method is used widely in that environment, in most cases. For example, countershading is very common among land animals, but not for military camouflage. The dominant camouflage methods on land are countershading and disruptive coloration, supported by less frequent usage of many other methods.[4] The dominant camouflage methods in the open ocean are transparency,[5] reflection, and counterillumination.[6] Transparency and reflectivity are dominant in the top 100 metres (330 ft) of the ocean; counterillumination is dominant from 100 metres (330 ft) down to 1,000 metres (3,300 ft).[6] Most animals of the open sea use one or more of these methods.[6] Military camouflage relies predominantly on disruptive patterns,[7] though methods such as outline disruption are also used, and others have been prototyped.

In 1890 the English zoologist Edward Bagnall Poulton categorised animal colours by their uses,[8] which cover both camouflage and mimicry.[9] Poulton's categories were largely followed by Hugh Cott in 1940.[4] Relevant Poulton categories are listed in the table. Where Poulton's definition covers a method but does not name it explicitly, the category is named in parentheses.


Comparisons[edit]

Examples of camouflage methods in animal and military usage
Method Poulton
category[4][8]
Terrestrial, aerial Aquatic Military
Mimesis:
resembling something not of interest to the observer
Special aggressive resemblance:
mimesis by a predator to avoid scaring off prey
Flower mantis[10]
Flower mantis
Green frogfish[11]
Green frogfish
Sunshield[12]
Crusader tank with a 'Sunshield' mimicking a truck in Operation Bertram
Special protective resemblance:
resemblance to a specific object by prey to avoid detection by predators
Dead leaf butterfly[8]
A 'dead leaf' butterfly
Soft coral spider crab[13]
A soft coral spider crab hidden on soft coral
Observation tree, 1916[14]
Camouflaged iron observation tree, Vermezeele, 1916 by Andre Mare
Colour matching:
having similar colours to the environment
General protective resemblance:
resembling the background in a general way
European tree frog[3]
A green European tree frog
Brown trout[15]
A brown trout in a river
Khaki uniforms, 1910[16]
Greek soldiers in khaki uniforms, 1910
Disruptive coloration:
having high contrast coloration that breaks up outlines, so observers fail to recognise the object
General protective resemblance (a type of) Papuan frogmouth[17]
A Papuan frogmouth bird resembling a tree stump
Dominant
Commerson's frogfish[18]
A Commerson's frogfish: disruption and mimicry
Disruptive Pattern Material[19]
British 'disruptive pattern material' camouflage pattern for clothing
Dominant
Seasonal variation:
having coloration that varies with season, usually summer to winter
Variable general protective resemblance:
having coloration that resembles the background in each season, in a general way
Arctic hare[20]
An all-white Arctic hare in snow
Snow overalls[21]
Norwegian Winter War volunteer soldiers in white snow overalls
Side or Thayer countershading:
having graded toning from dark above to light below, so as to cancel out the apparent effect of self-shadowing when viewed from the side
Bushbuck[22]
A bushbuck appearing flat sided through countershading
Dominant
Blue shark[23]
A countershaded shark
Hugh Cott's guns[24]
(see that article for image)
Above/below countershading:
having different colours or patterns above and below, to camouflage the upperside for observers from above, and the underside for observers from below
Penguins[25]
Penguins, black on back, white on belly
Supermarine Spitfire[26]
Supermarine Spitfire, pale below, ground coloured above
Counterillumination:
generating light to raise the brightness of an object to match a brighter background, as of a marine animal's underside against the sea surface
Sparkling enope squid[27][28]
A sparkling enope squid
Dominant (100–1000m)
 
Yehudi lights
(prototype)[29]
Diagram of Yehudi Lights showing how they raise a plane's brightness to match the sky
Transparency:
letting so much light through that the object is hard to see in typical lighting conditions
General protective resemblance (a type of) Glass frogs[30]
A glass frog, semi-transparent, greenish
Comb jellies[27]
A transparent comb jelly floating in open water
Dominant (0–100m)
Reflection (silvering):
reflecting enough light, usually from the sides, to make the object show as a (reflected) patch of the environment
General protective resemblance (a type of) Pilchard[27]
A silvery fish, the pilchard
Dominant (0–100m)
Self-decoration:
covering oneself in materials from the environment
Adventitious protection:
covering oneself in materials that are not part of the body
Masked hunter bug[31]
A nymph of the masked hunter bug, covered in sand grains
Decorator crabs[32]
A decorator crab covered in coloured sponges
Ghillie suit[33]
A sniper wearing a ragged ghillie suit among thick vegetation
Concealment of shadow:
having features such as flanges or a flattened body to reduce or hide the shadow
Flying lizard[34]
A flying lizard hard to see on a patterned tree trunk
Tasselled wobbegong[35]
A species of carpet shark with a fringe around its chin, hiding its shadow
Camouflage netting[36]
A military vehicle covered in camouflage netting
Irregular outline:
having an broken or complex outline (that may help delay recognition by an observer)
Special protective resemblance (types of) Comma butterfly[37]
A comma butterfly showing it irregular wing outline
Leafy sea dragon[38]
A leafy sea dragon showing its complicated seaweed-like outline
Scrim, branches[39]
Tanks covered in branches and scrim
Feature disruption:
having high contrast markings that specifically break up or conceal distinctive features of the object
Eyestripe of
Mexican vine snake[40]
Mexican vine snake showing eyestripe
Eyestripe of
Cobia[41]
Cobia fish showing eyestripe
Gun barrel of
Sherman Firefly[42]
Sherman Firefly tank showing half of gun barrel disrupted by paintwork
Distraction:
having coloration that distracts an observer's attention away from a feature of the object (such as the head or eye)
Eyespots of
Peacock butterfly[43]
Peacock butterfly showing eyespots
Foureye butterflyfish[44]
Foureye butterflyfish showing eyespots
False bow wave in
ship camouflage[45]
Second World War warship showing false bow wave
Active camouflage:
changing the coloration rapidly enough to maintain resemblance to the current background while moving
Variable aggressive resemblance, variable protective resemblance:
varing coloration to resemble the background, in predator and prey respectively
Veiled chameleon[46]
Veiled chameleon showing striped green pattern
Octopuses[47]
Octopus hard to see on ocean floor
Adaptiv[48]
(see that article for image)
Motion camouflage:
following a track such that the object remains between a starting point and the target (e.g. prey) at all times, rather than going straight for the target
Hoverfly[49]
Hoverfly hovering in the air
Air-to-air missile[50]
Fighter plane launching air-to-air missile
Motion dazzle:
rapidly moving a bold pattern of contrasting stripes, confusing an observer's visual processing[51][52]
Zebra[52]
Zebra's bold pattern may provide motion dazzle
Proposal only[51]

(NB: Marine
Dazzle camouflage
did not claim
this effect)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Cott, 1940. Chapter 1: General Colour Resemblance. pp. 5–19.
  2. ^ a b Forbes, 2009. p. 51.
  3. ^ a b Beddard, 1892. p. 83.
  4. ^ a b c Cott, 1940. Part 1: Concealment. pp. 5–190.
  5. ^ Johnsen, Sönke (December 2001). "Hidden in Plain Sight: The Ecology and Physiology of Organismal Transparency". Biological Bulletin 201 (3): 301–318. doi:10.2307/1543609. PMID 11751243. 
  6. ^ a b c McFall-Ngai, Margaret J (1990). "Crypsis in the Pelagic Environment". American Zoologist 30 (1): 175–188. doi:10.1093/icb/30.1.175. 
  7. ^ Newark, 2007. p. 154.
  8. ^ a b c Poulton, 1890. Fold-out after p. 339.
  9. ^ Forbes, 2009. pp. 51–52.
  10. ^ Forbes, 2009. p. 134.
  11. ^ Cott, 1940. pp. 340–342.
  12. ^ Barkas, 1952. pp. 202–203.
  13. ^ Cott, 1940. p. 338.
  14. ^ "Art of the First World War: André Mare and Leon Underwood". The Elm at Vermezeele. Memorial-Caen. 1998. Retrieved 8 February 2013. 
  15. ^ Cott, 1940. p. 28.
  16. ^ Newark, 2007. pp. 45–46.
  17. ^ Cott, 1940. p. 148.
  18. ^ Bester, Cathleen. "Striated Frogfish". Florida Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  19. ^ Blechman, Hardy and Newman, Alex (2004). DPM: Disruptive Pattern Material. DPM Ltd. 
  20. ^ Cott, 1940. p. 23.
  21. ^ "1915 Protective colouring pyrotechnics British Soldier white overalls snow winter clothing uniform camouflage camouflaged". DijitalImaj. Retrieved 22 February 2013.  Original publication in "The War Illustrated a Conflict of Nations"
  22. ^ Ruxton, Graeme D; Speed, Michael P; Kelly, David J (2004). "What, if anything, is the adaptive function of countershading?". Animal Behaviour 68: 445–451. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2003.12.009. 
  23. ^ Cott, 1940. pp. 40–41.
  24. ^ Forbes, 2009. pp. 149–150.
  25. ^ Rowland, Hannah M (February 2009). "From Abbott Thayer to the present day: what have we learned about the function of countershading?". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 364 (1516): 519–527. doi:10.1098/rstb.2008.0261. PMC 2674085. 
  26. ^ Nichols, Steve (2008). Malta Spitfire Aces. Osprey Publishing. p. 16. 
  27. ^ a b c Herring, 2002. pp. 190–195.
  28. ^ "Midwater Squid, Abralia veranyi". Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 28 November 2011. 
  29. ^ Bush, Vannevar; Conant, James; Harrison, George; and others (1946). "Camouflage of Sea-Search Aircraft". "Visibility Studies and Some Applications in the Field of Camouflage". Office of Scientific Research and Development, National Defence Research Committee. pp. 225–240. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  30. ^ Naish, D. "Green-boned glass frogs, monkey frogs, toothless toads". Tetrapod zoology. scienceblogs.com. Retrieved 14 February 2013. 
  31. ^ Wierauch, C (2006). "Anatomy of disguise: camouflaging structures in nymphs of Some Reduviidae (Heteroptera)". American Museum Novitates (3542): 1–18. doi:10.1206/0003-0082(2006)3542[1:AODCSI]2.0.CO;2. 
  32. ^ Hultgren, Kristin & Jay Stachowicz (2011). "Camouflage in decorator crabs: integrating ecological, behavioural and evolutionary approaches". In Martin Stevens & Sami Merilaita. Animal Camouflage. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-19911-7. 
  33. ^ Forbes, 2009. pp. 102–103.
  34. ^ MacKinnon, Kathy (1992). Nature's Treasurehouse: The Wildlife of Indonesia. Gramedia Pustaka Utama. p. 38. 
  35. ^ Martin, Linda (21 July 2011). "New shark at The Deep heralds summer event". The Deep. Retrieved 18 April 2013. 
  36. ^ Cott, 1940. p. 111.
  37. ^ Cott, 1940. p. 75.
  38. ^ Cott, 1940. pp. 341–342.
  39. ^ Cott, 1940. pp. 359, 362.
  40. ^ Cott, 1940. p. 85.
  41. ^ Cott, 1940. pp. 84–87.
  42. ^ Middle East AFV Technical Letter. The Tank Museum, UK; originally G(Cam) Eighth Army. 26 January 1945. 
  43. ^ Vallin, A., S. Jakobsson, J. Lind, and C. Wiklund (2005). "Prey survival by predator intimidation: an experimental study of peacock butterfly defence against blue tits". Proceedings Royal Society: Biological Sciences 272 (1569): 1203–1207. doi:10.1098/rspb.2004.3034. 
  44. ^ Cott, 1940. p. 373.
  45. ^ "USS Northampton (CA-26, originally CL-26), 1930–1942". Naval Historical Center. 2002. Retrieved 13 June 2012. 
  46. ^ Forbes, 2009. p. 236.
  47. ^ Forbes, 2009. pp. 236–239.
  48. ^ "Innovation Adaptiv Car Signature". BAE Systems. 2012. Retrieved 12 February 2013. 
  49. ^ Srinivasan, M. V. & Davey, M. (1995). "Strategies for active camouflage of motion". Proceedings of the Royal Society B 259 (1354): 19–25. doi:10.1098/rspb.1995.0004. 
  50. ^ Ghose, K; Horiuchi, TK; Krishnaprasad, PS; Moss, CF (2006). "Echolocating Bats Use a Nearly Time-Optimal Strategy to Intercept Prey". PLoS Biology 4 (5): e108. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0040108. PMC 1436025. PMID 16605303. 
  51. ^ a b Scott-Samuel, NE; Baddeley, R; Palmer, CE; Cuthill, IC (June 2011). Burr, David C, ed. "Dazzle Camouflage Affects Speed Perception". PLoS ONE 6 (6): e20233. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020233. PMC 3105982. PMID 21673797. 
  52. ^ a b How, Martin J.; Zanker, Johannes M. (2014). "Motion camouflage induced by zebra stripes". Zoology: TBA. doi:10.1016/j.zool.2013.10.004. 

Bibliography[edit]