Titti Bohlin, PhD student

Contact details

Phone: +358-2-215 4860

Fax: +358-2-251 7013

E-mail: tbohlin(at)abo.fi

Postal address:

Environmental and Marine Biology

Åbo Akademi University

Artillerigatan 6

FI-20520 ÅBO


Room: 2047, Biocity, 2nd floor

Supervisor: Sami Merilaita

Co-supervisor: Birgitta Tullberg (Stockholm University)

Research Interests

I am interested in how different protective coloration in insects function as an anti-predator strategy. The two main categories of protective coloration are crypsis and aposematism. It is well known that both strategies can effectively decrease the predation risk of prey animals, either by avoiding detection or by warning signals. There is a large variation in colour and patterning among prey animals, and even though protective coloration has been extensively studied, it is not at all clear what characterizes a cryptic or aposematic coloration, or how certain colours and patternings actually affect the detectability of prey. The categorization of different colour patterns as either cryptic or aposematic is usually done in a highly subjective manner. My main focus in my research is to find methods and analyses allowing me to objectively investigate which aspects of prey patterning that may be important in typically cryptic and typically aposematic insects. Such an approach can markedly improve our understanding of the evolution and appearance of animal coloration.

I am also interested in how the natural background affects detectability of prey coloration. Regardless of the function of a protective coloration, it is in some way affected by the background it is seen against. It is difficult to study detectability in nature with live prey and natural predators, so we have developed an image-based method, allowing us to measure detectability of different insects against their natural background, using human 'predators'.

Research Approach

I use both empirical and theoretical studies in my research.

List of publications

  • Bohlin, T., Gamberale-Stille, G., Merilaita, S., Exnerová, A., Štys, P., Tullberg, B.S. 2012: The detectability of the colour pattern in the aposematic firebug, Pyrrhocoris apterus: an image-based experiment with human ‘predators'. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 105: 806-816, DOI: 10.1111/j.1095-8312.2011.01834.x

  • Tullberg, B.S., Gamberale-Stille, G., Bohlin, T. & Merilaita S. 2008: Seasonal ontogenetic colour plasticity in the adult striated shieldbug Graphosoma lineatum (Heteroptera) and its effect on detectability. - Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 62:1389-1396.

  • Bohlin, T., Tullberg, B.S. & Merilaita S. 2008: The effect of signal appearance and distance on detection risk in an aposematic butterfly larva (Parnassius apollo). - Animal Behaviour 76: 577-584.

Professional Posters

  • Bohlin, T., Merilaita, S.,Exnerová, A., Štys, P., Tullberg, B.S. 2012: The effect of colour and distance on detectability in two aposematic insect species View poster as PDF