I am a postdoctoral researcher working on visual signalling and anti-predator strategies, with a special interest in visual communication in Lepidoptera. In my current role in Martin Stevens’ Sensory Ecology and Evolution lab, I am investigating the relative benefits of specialist and generalist strategies for background-matching camouflage, using a mix of field experiments and online search games.

My previous research has covered a range of topics in animal coloration, from cuttlefish camouflage patterns to the functions of zebra stripes, but my main projects have focused on colour patterns and visual perception in Lepidoptera. For my PhD, I investigated warning coloration in day-flying burnet moths (Zygaenidae), relating variation in colour pattern, chemical defence levels and predation risk, both within and between species, to test signal honesty in this system. Recent projects include work on the effects of conspicuous wing patterns on predator perception during butterfly flight, and visual modelling of how artificial lighting might affect colour perception by nocturnal hawkmoths. I am especially interested in using an understanding of visual ecology to approach problems relevant to biodiversity conservation, and enjoy raising awareness of the extraordinary adaptations of vulnerable species through public engagement, including outreach events and a children’s book exploring the visual defences of moths.


Caro T, Argueta Y, Briolat ES, Bruggink J, Kasprowsky M, Lake J, Mitchell MJ, Richardson S & How M. (2019) Benefits of zebra stripes: behaviour of tabanid flies around zebras and horses. PLoS One 14(2): e0210831. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0210831

Briolat ES, Zagrobelny M, Olsen C-E, Blount JD & Stevens M. (2019) No evidence of quantitative signal honesty across species of aposematic burnet moths (Lepidoptera: Zygaenidae). Journal of Evolutionary Biology 32(1): 31-48. doi:10.1111/jeb.13389

Briolat ES*, Burdfield-Steel ER*, Paul SC*, Rönkä RH*, Seymoure BM*, Stankowich T* & Stuckert AMM.* (2019) Diversity in warning coloration: Selective paradox or the norm? Biological Reviews 94(2): 388-412. *equal contributors doi:10.1111/brv.12460

Briolat ES, Zagrobelny M, Olsen C-E, Blount JD & Stevens M. (2018) Sex differences but no quantitative honesty in the aposematic six-spot burnet moth (Zygaena filipendulae L.). Evolution 72(7): 1460-1474. doi:10.1111/evo.13505

Emmanuelle Briolat

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