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Evolution of Gregariousness in Aposematic Butterfly Larvae: A Phylogenetic Analysis

Birgitta Sillen-Tullberg
Evolution
Vol. 42, No. 2 (Mar., 1988), pp. 293-305
DOI: 10.2307/2409233
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2409233
Page Count: 13
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Evolution of Gregariousness in Aposematic Butterfly Larvae: A Phylogenetic Analysis
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Abstract

Gregariousness ought to be disadvantageous for palatable organisms that live exposed and are relatively immobile and small in comparison to potential predators. Therefore, the idea that unpalatability generally evolves before egg clustering/larval gregariousness in butterflies was tested. Aposematic coloration in the larva was used as the criterion of unpalatability (it is argued that Batesian mimicry is rare in butterfly larvae), and the relative order of evolution of aposematism and gregariousness was inferred through phylogenetic analysis. Here, existing phylogenies were used, and the analysis was based on an assumption of a minimum number of evolutionary changes (parsimony). A total of 23 cases of independent evolution of gregariousness and 12 cases of independent evolution of aposematic coloration were found. In five cases, gregariousness evolved in cryptic species, the palatability of which is unknown. For lineages in which both unpalatability, as evidenced by aposematic coloration, and gregariousness were found and the two evolutionary events could be separated, unpalatability always preceded gregariousness: five cases of independent evolution of warning coloration were followed by a total of 15 cases of independent evolution of gregariousness. In no lineage did gregariousness evolve before warning coloration. It is thus concluded that unpalatability is an important predisposing factor for the evolution of egg clustering and larval gregariousness in butterflies. Insofar as kin selection is related to larval gregariousness, this study indicates that kin selection is of minor importance for the evolution of both unpalatability and warning coloration.

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