Mimicry Handout - General Ecology(BIO SCI 310 Mimicry Lab...

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General’Ecol ogy’(BIO’SCI’310)’ Mimicry’Lab’Handout ’ 1 Mimicry Lab Most animals face the challenge of avoiding predation. Species that are distasteful or dangerous often advertise it with bright coloration patterns, a phenomenon termed aposematism . Predators often avoid preying upon aposematic animals, either as an innate avoidance response, or because they have learned to associate them with distastefulness. Species that are palatable (or not as distasteful as the aposematic species) often evolve to resemble aposematic species in their habitat, benefitting from the protection from predators that their similarity to aposematic species provides. This phenomenon is termed batesian mimicry . Mimicry is an interaction involving three participants: (i) the model : the noxious, aposematic species; (ii) the mimic: the palatable species that resembles the model; and (iii) the predator(s) : the source of selection on the defense strategies of model and mimic. Variation in the abundance of models and mimics poses a problem: If the aposematic model is commonly encountered by predators, predators should avoid both model and mimic, because encounters often lead to distasteful experiences. However, if the mimic becomes too abundant, predators may cease to avoid both model and mimic, since now encounters often lead to palatable prey. This relaxation in the avoidance of striking patterns may be due to the predators’ learning not to avoid them anymore, or to natural selection favoring predators that do not avoid the often–palatable prey. In either case, there may be frequency– dependent selection : mimics may be favored when rare, but disfavored when common. Note that the model also suffers when the mimic becomes too common. In this lab, we will test 3 hypotheses related to the above problem. (1) The aposematism hypothesis states that the model benefits from advertising its distastefulness with striking coloration patterns. This hypothesis predicts that the model will have higher survivorship (lower predation) than palatable, non–striking species.
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Mimicry Handout - General Ecology(BIO SCI 310 Mimicry Lab...

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