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Imperfect Batesian Mimicry-The Effects of the Frequency and the Distastefulness of the Model

Leena Lindstrom, Rauno V. Alatalo and Johanna Mappes
Proceedings: Biological Sciences
Vol. 264, No. 1379 (Feb. 22, 1997), pp. 149-153
Published by: Royal Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/50626
Page Count: 5
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Imperfect Batesian Mimicry-The Effects of the Frequency and the Distastefulness of the Model
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Abstract

Batesian mimicry is the resemblance between unpalatable models and palatable mimics. The widely accepted idea is that the frequency and the unprofitability of the model are crucial for the introduction of a Batesian mimic into the prey population. However, experimental evidence is limited and furthermore, previous studies have considered mainly perfect mimicry (automimicry). We investigated imperfect Batesian mimicry by varying the frequency of an aposematic model at two levels of distastefulness. The predator encountered prey in a random order, one prey item at a time. The prey were thus presented realistically in a sequential way. Great tits (Parus major) were used as predators. This experiment, with a novel signal, supports the idea that Batesian mimics gain most when the models outnumber them. The mortalities of the mimics as well as the models were significantly dependent on the frequency of the model. Both prey types survived better the fewer mimics there were confusing the predator. There were also indications that the degree of distastefulness of the model had an effect on the survival of the Batesian mimic: the models survived significantly better the more distasteful they were. The experiment supports the most classical predictions in the theories of the origin and maintenance of Batesian mimicry.

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