28.10.2014

Co-operative predator defence: mimicry

Great tit held by HannahIn mutually beneficial mimicry systems chemically defended prey species such as toxic insects use the same signal (e.g. colour pattern) to advertise their unprofitability to predators. Since predators have to learn by trial and error to avoid warning signals, visual similarity of the co-mimic species is assumed to evolve because it spreads out the mortality costs arising from such 'sampling'. In parasitic mimicry systems edible species 'cheat' and gain protection by mimicing chemically defended model species.

Johanna Mappes, Juan GalarzaCarita Lindstedt and Janne Valkonen use European vipers and Arctiid moths as well as the “novel world” landscape to study

  • what ecological conditions favour co-operation vs. parasitic relationships in defensive mimicry
  • what drives polymorphism in defensive mimicry
  • whether changes in prey and predator community structures explain why selection for signal monomorphism in co-mimics is relaxed