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Experimental Studies of Mimicry in Some North American Butterflies: Part I. The Monarch, Danaus plexippus, and Viceroy, Limenitis archippus archippus

Jane van Zandt Brower
Evolution
Vol. 12, No. 1 (Mar., 1958), pp. 32-47
DOI: 10.2307/2405902
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2405902
Page Count: 16
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Experimental Studies of Mimicry in Some North American Butterflies: Part I. The Monarch, Danaus plexippus, and Viceroy, Limenitis archippus archippus
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Abstract

1) This paper is the first in a series of three which present experimental studies of mimicry in some North American butterflies. 2) The experiments were designed to study the effectiveness of mimicry in these butterflies with the use of eight Florida Scrub Jays (Cyanocitta coerulescens coerulescens) as caged predators. The butterflies were immobilized and their wings were folded together dorsally, so that only mimicry in the characters of the underside of the wings was being tested in these experiments. 3) The present experiments tested mimicry in the classic example of the Monarch (Danaus plexippus) and Viceroy (Limenitis archippus archippus). 4) The results of these experiments show that the non-mimetic butterflies, used in couplet with each model or mimic, were eaten in every trial by all birds. 5) The four experimental birds were given numerous trials with the model, the Monarch. The Monarch was not eaten by these birds in any trial, and in many trials was not touched, after initial learning had taken place. 6) After the experimental birds had been given more than 50 trials with the Monarch, the Viceroy was substituted for the Monarch at intervals. The Viceroy was never eaten by the four experimental birds, and in many trials was not even touched. 7) Characteristic behavior shown by the four experimental birds after the presentation of both Monarchs and Viceroys indicated no discrimination between the two species of butterflies. 8) The four control birds had no prior laboratory experience with the Monarch, and these birds ate the Viceroy in many trials. 9) A statistical analysis of the reaction to the Viceroy by the experimental and control birds indicated that the two groups did not react to the Viceroy in the same way. The difference in response is attributed to the prior laboratory experience of the experimental birds with the Monarch. The color pattern of the Viceroy was apparently associated with the complete inedibility and similar color pattern of the Monarch. Under the conditions of the experiment, mimicry has been shown to be effective. 10) The data indicate that the Viceroy is more edible than the Monarch, but less edible than the non-mimetic butterflies used in the experiments. In addition, the control birds took longer to seize Viceroys, on the average, than they took to seize the non-mimetic butterflies. Therefore the Viceroy is not termed either a Batesian or a Mullerian mimic in the classical sense. 11) Learning behavior and memory in the Scrub Jays were considered briefly. The records showed that three of the four experimental birds remembered to reject a Monarch and a Viceroy on sight alone, after a period of over two weeks had elapsed since their last experience with these butterflies.

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