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Evolutionary implications of the form of predator generalisation for aposematic signals and mimicry in prey
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8708-8097
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology. Etologi.
2008 (English)In: Evolution: International Journal of Organic Evolution, ISSN 1558-5646, Vol. 62, no 11, 2913-2921 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Generalization is at the heart of many aspects of behavioral ecology; for foragers it can be seen as an essential feature of learning about potential prey, because natural populations of prey are unlikely to be perfectly homogenous. Aposematic signals are considered to aid predators in learning to avoid a class of defended prey. Predators do this by generalizing between the appearance of prey they have previously sampled and the appearance of prey they subsequently encounter. Mimicry arises when such generalization occurs between individuals of different species. Our aim here is to explore whether the specific shape of the generalization curve can be expected to be important for theoretical predictions relating to the evolution of aposematism and mimicry. We do this by a reanalysis and development of the models provided in two recent papers. We argue that the shape of the generalization curve, in combination with the nature of genetic and phenotypic variation in prey traits, can have evolutionary significance under certain delineated circumstances. We also demonstrate that the process of gradual evolution of Müllerian mimicry proposed by Fisher is particularly efficient in populations with a rich supply of standing genetic variation in mimetic traits.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 62, no 11, 2913-2921 p.
Keyword [en]
Generalization gradient, Müllerian mimicry, peak shift, warning signals
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-14746DOI: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2008.00485.xISI: 000260348100015OAI: diva2:181266
Available from: 2008-10-29 Created: 2008-10-29 Last updated: 2014-10-13Bibliographically 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.Leimar, Olof
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