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Fixed eyespot display in a butterfly thwarts attacking birds
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology. (Ekologi)
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology. (Ekologi)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4719-487X
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology. (Etologi)
2009 (English)In: Animal Behaviour, ISSN 0003-3472, Vol. 77, no 6, 1415-1419 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Eyespots have evolved in many lepidopteran insects, which suggests their adaptive value. One of their hypothesized functions is that predators are intimidated by prey with large and conspicuous eyespots and hence refrain from attacking them. Recent experiments have shown that a combination of eyespots and intimidating behaviour can increase survival. We tested whether the mere presence of conspicuous eyespots can thwart attacking birds, that is, when the eyespots are displayed constantly, without any intimidating behaviour. We used prey that consisted of wings of the peacock pansy butterfly, Junonia almana, glued onto a piece of cardboard so as to resemble a butterfly with its wings open. A mealworm was placed between the wings in place of the body. Great tits, Parus major, were used as the predator in the study and were offered a choice between two model prey, one with intact eyespots and one without. Prey with eyespots were attacked significantly fewer times than those without. The time between the first and second attack was longer when the prey without eyespots was attacked first. These results support the hypothesis that naturally occuring butterfly eyespots can increase survival even when they are constantly displayed and motionless.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London, England: ACADEMIC PRESS LTD- ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD , 2009. Vol. 77, no 6, 1415-1419 p.
Keyword [en]
eyespot; intimidation hypothesis; Junonia almana; peacock pansy
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Research subject
Animal Ecology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-33242DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2009.02.018ISI: 000266884200008OAI: diva2:282759
Available from: 2009-12-21 Created: 2009-12-21 Last updated: 2014-10-13Bibliographically approved

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Kodandaramaiah, UllasaWiklund, Christer
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