A1 Journal article (refereed)
Hard to catch : experimental evidence supports evasive mimicry (2021)

Páez, E., Valkonen, J. K., Willmott, K. R., Matos-Maraví, P., Elias, M., & Mappes, J. (2021). Hard to catch : experimental evidence supports evasive mimicry. Proceedings of the Royal Society B : Biological Sciences, 288(1946), Article 20203052. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2020.3052

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Páez, Erika; Valkonen, Janne K.; Willmott, Keith R.; Matos-Maraví, Pável; Elias, Marianne; Mappes, Johanna

Journal or series: Proceedings of the Royal Society B : Biological Sciences

ISSN: 0962-8452

eISSN: 1471-2954

Publication year: 2021

Publication date: 10/03/2021

Volume: 288

Issue number: 1946

Article number: 20203052

Publisher: The Royal Society Publishing

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2020.3052

Publication open access: Not open

Publication channel open access:

Web address of parallel published publication (pre-print): https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.05.20.102525v1


Most research on aposematism has focused on chemically defended prey, but the signalling difficulty of capture remains poorly explored. Similar to classical Batesian and Müllerian mimicry related to distastefulness, such ‘evasive aposematism' may also lead to convergence in warning colours, known as evasive mimicry. A prime candidate group for evasive mimicry are Adelpha butterflies, which are agile insects and show remarkable colour pattern convergence. We tested the ability of naive blue tits to learn to avoid and generalize Adelpha wing patterns associated with the difficulty of capture and compared their response to that of birds that learned to associate the same wing patterns with distastefulness. Birds learned to avoid all wing patterns tested and generalized their aversion to other prey to some extent, but learning was faster with evasive prey compared to distasteful prey. Our results on generalization agree with longstanding observations of striking convergence in wing colour patterns among Adelpha species, since, in our experiments, perfect mimics of evasive and distasteful models were always protected during generalization and suffered the lowest attack rate. Moreover, generalization on evasive prey was broader compared to that on distasteful prey. Our results suggest that being hard to catch may deter predators at least as effectively as distastefulness. This study provides empirical evidence for evasive mimicry, a potentially widespread but poorly understood form of morphological convergence driven by predator selection.

Keywords: warning coloration; mimicry; convergence; animal behaviour; predation; prey; Nymphalidae

Free keywords: evasive aposematism; convergence; predator learning; prey defence; Adelpha; distastefulness

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Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2021

JUFO rating: 3

Last updated on 2023-03-10 at 10:26