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 editorsPáez, Erika; Valkonen, Janne K.; Willmott, Keith R.; Matos-Maraví, Pável; Elias, Marianne; Mappes, Johanna

Journal or seriesProceedings of the Royal Society B : Biological Sciences



Publication year2021

Publication date10/03/2021


Issue number1946

Article number20203052

PublisherThe Royal Society Publishing

Publication countryUnited Kingdom

Publication languageEnglish


Publication open accessNot 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.

Keywordswarning colorationmimicryconvergenceanimal behaviourpredationpreyNymphalidae

Free keywordsevasive aposematism; convergence; predator learning; prey defence; Adelpha; distastefulness

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Ministry reportingYes

Reporting Year2021

JUFO rating3

Last updated on 2024-03-04 at 20:06