In the most recent funding round, Kate has secured a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA)! This is exciting and will provide the opportunity to focus on startle displays for the next 3-4 years. This is the 100 word summary from the grant application:
Startle displays: a new route to resolving the aposematism paradox.
This project aims to propose an empirical evaluation of startle displays as the ‘missing link’ in antipredator defences. The evolutionary origin of warning colouration is considered paradoxical in that conspicuous mutant prey should be attacked and killed as they evolve, denying predators any chance to learn to avoid them. Startle displays, however, are antipredator defences that exploit predator reflexes through a sudden transition from camouflage to warning colouration. This work merges theory on antipredator defences, deepens knowledge of their fitness costs and benefits, and provides a new resolution to a classic evolutionary paradox.