Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology
Journal or Book Title
In Batesian mimicry a palatable mimic deceives predators by resembling an unpalatable model. The evolution of Batesian mimicry relies on the visual capabilities of the potential predators, as prey detection provides the selective force driving evolutionary change. We compared the visual capabilities of several potential predators to test predictions stemming from the hypothesis of Batesian mimicry between two salamanders: the model species Notophthalmus viridescens, and polymorphic mimic, Plethodon cinereus. First, we found mimicry to be restricted to coloration, but not brightness. Second, only bird predators appeared able to discriminate between the colors of models and non-mimic P. cinereus. Third, estimates of salamander conspicuousness were background-dependent, corresponding to predictions only for backgrounds against which salamanders are most active. These results support the hypothesis that birds influence the evolution of Batesian mimicry in P. cinereus, as they are the only group examined capable of differentiating N. viridescens and non-mimetic P. cinereus. Additionally, patterns of conspicuousness suggest that selection from predators may drive the evolution of conspicuousness in this system. This study confirms the expectation that the visual abilities of predators may influence the evolution of Batesian mimicry, but the role of conspicuousness may be more complex than previously thought.
Kraemer, Andrew C. and Adams, Dean C., "Predator Perception of Batesian Mimicry and Conspicuousness in a Salamander" (2014). Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology Publications. 204.