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Predator-based selection and the impact of edge sympatry on components of coral snake mimicry


Wilson, Lauren et al. (2022), Predator-based selection and the impact of edge sympatry on components of coral snake mimicry, Dryad, Dataset,


Mimicry is a vivid example of how predator-driven selection can impact phenotypic diversity, which itself can be influenced by the presence (sympatry) or absence (allopatry) of a dangerous model. However, the impact of sympatry and allopatry on predation on mimicry systems at fine spatial scales (e.g., edge sympatry, allopatry) is not well understood. We used a clay model study in a montane tropical site in Honduras to test the impact of edge sympatry on 1) overall attack rates, 2) the fitness benefit of mimetic coloration, 3) predation on specific mimetic signal components, and 4) temporal variation in predator-based selection on mimicry components. Unlike previous research, we found that mimetic phenotypes received significantly more attacks than cryptic replicas in edge sympatry, suggesting that mimetic phenotypes might not confer a fitness benefit in areas of edge sympatry. Additionally, we documented temporal variation in predator-based selection, as the impacts of allopatry on predatory attacks varied among years. Our results imply that the effect of sympatry and allopatry on predator-based selection in mimicry systems may be more complex than previously thought for species-rich assemblies of coral snakes and their mimics in the montane tropics.


Methods on how our data were collected, processed and analysed are described in the associated paper.

Usage notes

Readme file for raw attack data: README_attack_data.txt


Jack N. Averitt College of Graduate Studies, Georgia Southern University