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Colour and pattern similarity in mimicry: evidence for a hierarchical discriminative learning of different components
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3445-3759
2012 (English)In: Animal Behaviour, ISSN 0003-3472, E-ISSN 1095-8282, Vol. 84, no 4, 881-887 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Many aposematic species combine their bright colours with a black pattern that produces internal contrasts. Studies have shown that birds often pay attention to some parts of a signalling pattern and disregard others, which could be of importance in Batesian mimicry, where a palatable species copies the visual appearance of a distasteful model in order to deceive predators. We used domestic chicks, Gallus gallus domesticus, and artificial prey signals to investigate whether predators use different warning colour components for discrimination depending on the degree of information about prey quality they convey. This study supports earlier findings of the importance of colour for discrimination among prey but also provides evidence that other less associable signal properties such as internal patterning, when holding valuable discriminatory information, can be used to assess prey quality in a hierarchical manner. The results also suggest that, in certain circumstances, the presence of a palatable mimic can have positive effects on learning, resulting in 'super-Mullerian' effects. We propose that the degree of selection for perfect mimicry may be dependent on the proportion of well-educated predators in the population.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 84, no 4, 881-887 p.
Keyword [en]
animal colour pattern, aposematism, domestic chick, Gallus gallus domesticus, generalization behaviour, hierarchical avoidance learning, signal design, signal evolution, super-Mullerian mimicry
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URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-82438DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2012.07.011ISI: 000309601400019OAI: diva2:567768


Available from: 2012-11-14 Created: 2012-11-14 Last updated: 2014-10-28Bibliographically approved

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Aronsson, MarianneGamberale-Stille, Gabriella
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