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Survival of Distasteful Insects After Being Attacked by Naive Birds: A Reappraisal of the Theory of Aposematic Coloration Evolving Through Individual Selection

Christer Wiklund and Torbjörn Järvi
Evolution
Vol. 36, No. 5 (Sep., 1982), pp. 998-1002
DOI: 10.2307/2408077
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2408077
Page Count: 5
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Survival of Distasteful Insects After Being Attacked by Naive Birds: A Reappraisal of the Theory of Aposematic Coloration Evolving Through Individual Selection
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Abstract

There is a general consensus that kin selection is prerequisite for the evolution of distastefulness and warning coloration as a means of anti-predator defense. However, after reviewing the literature we find that the fundamental basis of this theory, i.e., that aposematic prey are killed when tasted by predators, has not been demonstrated but only assumed. In fact it has repeatedly been shown that aposematic prey are often released unharmed after being tasted by wild, or wildcaught, amphibian, reptile, avian, and mammal predators. In the present paper we demonstrate that naive bird predators also often release distasteful prey insects unharmed after tasting them. We therefore conclude, along with Boyden (1976), that the evolution of unpalatability in butterflies and other insects can be explained on the basis of individual selection alone.

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