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The evolution of inaccurate mimics

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  • Ian Pitchford
    Nature 418, 524 - 526 (2002); doi:10.1038/nature00845 The evolution of inaccurate mimics RUFUS A. JOHNSTONE Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge,
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 18, 2002
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      Nature 418, 524 - 526 (2002); doi:10.1038/nature00845

      The evolution of inaccurate mimics

      RUFUS A. JOHNSTONE

      Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge
      CB2 3EJ, UK

      Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to the author
      (e-mail: raj1003@...).

      Instances of strikingly accurate Batesian mimicry (in which a palatable prey
      organism closely resembles an aversive model) are often cited to illustrate
      the power of natural selection. Less attention has been paid to those
      mimics, such as many hoverfly (Syrphidae) mimics of wasps or bees, that
      resemble their models only poorly. Attempts to provide an adaptive
      explanation for imperfect mimicry have suggested that what seems a crude
      resemblance to human observers may appear a close match to predators, or
      that inaccurate mimics may bear a general resemblance to several different
      model species. I show here, however, that truly inaccurate mimicry of a
      single model organism may be favoured over perfect resemblance, by kin
      selection. Signal detection theory predicts that predators will modify their
      level of discrimination adaptively in response to the relative frequencies
      and similarity of models and mimics. If models are rare and/or weakly
      aversive, greater local similarity of mimics can thus lead to greater attack
      rates. Where individual mimics are related to others in their vicinity, kin
      selection will then oppose the evolution of accurate mimicry.

      http://www.nature.com/nlink/v418/n6897/abs/418499b_fs.html
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