The coevolution theory of autumn colours

Marco Archetti, Sam P. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


According to the coevolution theory of autumn colours, the bright colours of leaves in autumn are a warning signal to insects that lay their eggs on the trees in that season. If the colour is linked to the level of defensive commitment of the tree and the insects learn to avoid bright colours, this may lead to a coevolutionary process in which bright trees reduce their parasite load and choosy insects locate the most profitable hosts for the winter. We try to clarify what the theory actually says and to correct some misunderstandings that have been put forward. We also review current research on autumn colours and discuss what needs to be done to test the theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1219-1223
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1545
StatePublished - Jun 22 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'The coevolution theory of autumn colours'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this