Many invertebrates avoid predator detection with patterns of disruptive coloration or background matching. We used perceptual modeling to examine how predator–prey interactions impact community structure. Perceptual modeling considers the conspicuousness of prey from the visual perspective of a predator. We used a multitrophic community consisting of wood-boring beetles, their generalist beetle predators, and insectivorous birds with a violet- (VS) and ultraviolet- (UVS) sensitive visual system. We then tested whether variations in visual conspicuousness of beetles with backgrounds modulate the degree to which bird abundance impacts beetle abundance.
We found significant relationships between the abundance of highly conspicuous prey and avian predators with a violet-sensitive (VS) visual system. These relationships were strongest when we compared predator and prey groups that use deadwood. Including species’ ecological function and a functional link between predators and prey in multitrophic studies will increase insight into interactions at the community level.