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Hard to catch: experimental evidence supports evasive mimicry

Citation

Páez V, Erika et al. (2021), Hard to catch: experimental evidence supports evasive mimicry, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.vq83bk3rj

Abstract

Most research on aposematism has focused on chemically defended prey, but the signaling difficulty of capture remains poorly explored. Similar to classical Batesian and Müllerian mimicry related to distastefulness, such ‘evasive aposematism' may also lead to convergence in warning colours, known as evasive mimicry. A prime candidate group for evasive mimicry areAdelphabutterflies, which are agile insects and show remarkable colour pattern convergence. We tested the ability of naive blue tits to learn to avoid and generalizeAdelphawing patterns associated with the difficulty of capture and compared their response to that of birds that learned to associate the same wing patterns with distastefulness. Birds learned to avoid all wing patterns tested and generalized their aversion to other prey to some extent, but learning was faster with evasive prey compared to distasteful prey. Our results on generalization agree with longstanding observations of striking convergence in wing colour patterns amongAdelphaspecies, since, in our experiments, perfect mimics of evasive and distasteful models were always protected during generalization and suffered the lowest attack rate. Moreover, generalization on evasive prey was broader compared to that on distasteful prey. Our results suggest that being hard to catch may deter predators at least as effectively as distastefulness. This study provides empirical evidence for evasive mimicry, a potentially widespread but poorly understood form of morphological convergence driven by predator selection.

Funding

Academy of Finland, Award: project no. 319124

Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle - Sorbonne Université, Award: TRANSHUMANCE mobility grant

Secretaría de Educación Superior, Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación, Award: Graduate fellowship

Grantová Agentura České Republiky, Award: Junior GAČR grant GJ20-18566Y

Akademie Věd České Republiky, Award: Fellowship grant L200961951

Doctoral School 227 Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle - Sorbonne Université, Award: Transhumance mobility grant

Secretaría de Educación Superior, Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Senescyt, Award: Graduate fellowship

The Academy of Finland, Award: Project no. 319124

Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle - Sorbonne Université, Award: TRANSHUMANCE mobility grant