Øistein Haugsten Holen

Øistein Holens norske hjemmeside
Bilde av Øistein Holen
I’m a theoretical evolutionary ecologist by training. I’m interested in adaptive phenotypic plasticity, information use, the evolution of honest and deceptive signals, and how organisms are defending themselves against their natural enemies, often using complex suites of traits that are expressed in concert. The properties of such complex defence portfolios are poorly understood. Other research interests have been parent-offspring conflict, coevolution and the 'Red Queen’, kin selection, protective colouration, and the role of taste in prey recognition. My doctoral thesis was on aggressive mimicry and Batesian mimicry. I have been a researcher at the Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES) at the University of Oslo. I'm currently an associate professor at BLU, OsloMet, where I teach natural sciences to future kindergarten teachers.


Protective colouration

One of the topics I study is how insect prey use protective colouration to stop predators (typically birds) from attacking them. Defended prey often use bold, conspicuous colour patterns to advertise that they are defended. Undefended prey may mimic defended prey, with the result that the predators mistake them for defended prey. Alternatively the prey can blend into the background using cryptic colouration, and thus reduce the probability of being detected. Below are some examples:
peacock butterfly (Inachis io)

The eyespots of the peacock butterfly (Inachis io) have been suggested to mimic vertebrate eyes and scare predators. Alternatively, the "eyes" may deflect predator attacks to less important parts of the body, or even function in mate choice. (Norwegian: Dagpåfugløye)

seven-spotted lady beetle

The seven-spotted lady beetle is chemically defended, and advertises this using red and black warning colours. (Norwegian: syvprikket marihøne).

bee beetle

The 'bee beetle' (Trichius fasciatus) is thought to mimic a bumble bee to avoid predation (Norwegian: humlebille).


Many hoverflies have wasp-like warning colours, but are harmless.


This hoverfly mimics a bumble bee.


This cicada rely on crypsis to avoid predation.

Coryzus hyoscyami

A warning-coloured bug, Coryzus hyoscyami. (Norwegian: Rød kanttege)

Chortippus grasshopper

Another example of crypsis, by a grasshopper (most likely Chorthippus sp.)

Maintained by Øistein Holen.
Last updated: March 1st 2023.