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Butterfly Palatability and Mimicry: Experiments with Ameiva Lizards

Thomas C. Boyden
Evolution
Vol. 30, No. 1 (Mar., 1976), pp. 73-81
DOI: 10.2307/2407673
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2407673
Page Count: 9
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Butterfly Palatability and Mimicry: Experiments with Ameiva Lizards
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Abstract

Wild Ameiva ameiva lizards in their natural habitat in Panama were fed live butterflies. A small localized population of these lizards which initially showed no preference for any butterfly species was effectively conditioned to avoid the unpalatable butterflies, Heliconius erato and H. melpomene, while continuing to prey upon Anartia fatima, a palatable species. Avoidance of Heliconius by Ameiva appears to be based on two types of sensory discriminations; a recognition of the color or pattern of the wings and the presence of a distasteful element in the body or wings which generally resulted in the rejection of the butterfly after an attack. Ameiva learn to avoid these butterflies after one or two trials. The evidence presented here suggests that lizards could act as selective agents for the evolution of unpalatability or mimicry in butterflies.

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