Avoidance of an aposematically coloured butterfly by wild birds in a tropical forest.
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Dell'Aglio, D., Stevens, M., & Jiggins, C. (2016). Avoidance of an aposematically coloured butterfly by wild birds in a tropical forest.. Ecological Entomology, 41 (5), 627-632. https://doi.org/10.1111/een.12335
1. Birds are considered to be the primary selective agents for warning colouration in butterflies, and select for aposematic mimicry by learning to avoid brightly coloured prey after unpleasant experiences. It has long been thought that bright colouration plays an important role in promoting the avoidance of distasteful prey by birds. 2. The hypothesis that warning colouration facilitates memorability and promotes predator avoidance was tested by means of a field experiment using distasteful model butterflies. Artificial butterflies with a Heliconius colour pattern unknown to local birds were generated using bird vision models, either coloured or achromatic, and hung in tree branches in a tropical forest. Two sequential trials were conducted at each site to test avoidance by naïve and experienced predators. 3. There was a significant reduction in predation in the second trial. Also, coloured models were attacked less than achromatic models. Specifically, coloured butterflies were attacked significantly less in the second trial, but there was no significant decrease in predation on achromatic models. 4. The present results imply an important role for colour in enhancing aversion of aposematic butterflies. It has also been demonstrated that previous experience of distasteful prey can lead to enhanced avoidance in subsequent trials, supporting mimicry theory.
Aposematism, Heliconius, artificial models, memory, predation
CAPES Cambridge Trust Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) David Phillips Research Fellowship. Grant Number: BB/G022887/1
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External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/een.12335
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/256350
Attribution 4.0 International
Licence URL: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/