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Learning and the mimicry spectrum: from quasi-Bates to super-Müller
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8708-8097
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology. Etologi.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3445-3759
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology. Etologi.
2008 (English)In: Animal Behaviour, ISSN 0003-3472, Vol. 76, no 5, 1591-1599 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Müllerian mimicry is the mutualistic resemblance between two defended species, while Batesian mimicry is the parasitic resemblance between a palatable species (the mimic) and an unpalatable one (the model). These two kinds of mimicry are traditionally seen as extreme ends of a mimicry spectrum. For the range in between, it has been suggested that mimetic relations between unequally defended species could be parasitic, and this phenomenon has been referred to as quasi-Batesian mimicry. Where a mimetic relation is placed along the mimicry spectrum depends on the assumptions made about predator learning. In this work, we use a variant of the Rescorla-Wagner learning model for virtual predators to analyse the different possible components of the mimicry spectrum. Our model entails that the rate of associative learning is influenced by variation in the stimuli to be learned. Variable stimuli, i.e. unequal defences, can increase the predator learning rate and thus lead to an increased level of mutualism in a mimetic relation. In our analysis, we make use of the concepts of super-Müllerian mimicry, where the benefit of mimicry is even greater than in traditional Müllerian mimicry, and quasi-Müllerian mimicry, where mimicry by a palatable mimic is mutualistic. We suggest that these types of mimicry should be included in the mimicry spectrum along with Müllerian, Batesian and quasi-Batesian mimicry.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 76, no 5, 1591-1599 p.
Keyword [en]
Associative learning, mutualism, Müllerian mimicry, quasi-Batesian mimicry, Rescorla-Wagner model
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-14644DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2008.07.017ISI: 000260118100016OAI: diva2:181164
Available from: 2008-10-20 Created: 2008-10-20 Last updated: 2014-10-28Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Predator psychology and mimicry evolution - a theoretical analysis
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Predator psychology and mimicry evolution - a theoretical analysis
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The evolution of Müllerian mimicry depends on many factors, among which predator psychology is the most important one. Predator avoidance learning, generalization and discrimination are primary selective agents during the evolutionary process. This thesis investigates an issue that has been a matter of debate since the 19th century; the question of how a mutant of a potential mimic population can escape the apostatic selection caused by predators that neither recognize it as a member of its own population, nor as being similar to its future model. In paper I, we investigate one of the ideas concerning this issue. Fisher stated that mimicry can evolve gradually by the displacement of an adaptive peak in a fitness landscape. We find this to be a plausible scenario, under certain conditions regarding predator generalization. In paper II, we further investigate the gradual evolutionary process and the implications of different generalization gradients. We find that the gradual process might be even more general than has previously been assumed and that abundant genetic variation in prey populations is an important factor in combination with predator generalization. In paper III, we examine another suggested solution to the problem of apostatic selection, the so-called two-step process, which can be problematic to extend to multiple prey traits. We find that the two-step process works for multidimensional traits provided that predators use feature-based generalization. The selective landscape of mimicry evolution is also shaped by the cost-benefit relationships for models and mimics. In paper IV we explore this matter, by applying the Rescorla-Wagner theory of learning to mimicry. We find that if variation in prey unpalatability gives rise to surprise, the learning rate is increased. This leads to unexpected kinds of mimicry that are more mutualistic than Müllerian mimicry has previously been assumed to be.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 2009. 34 p.
Müllerian mimicry, two-step evolution, gradual evolution, mutualism, predator psychology
National Category
Research subject
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-29056 (URN)978-91-7155-903-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2009-09-25, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 8 C, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Accepted. Available from: 2009-09-03 Created: 2009-08-10 Last updated: 2014-10-13Bibliographically approved

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Balogh, Alexandra C.V.Gamberale-Stille, GabriellaLeimar, Olof
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