The functional significance of aposematic signals: geographic variation in the responses of widespread lizard predators to colourful invertebrate prey

Tseng, Hui-Yun, Lin, Chung-Ping, Hsu, Jung-Ya, Pike, David A., and Huang, Wen-San (2014) The functional significance of aposematic signals: geographic variation in the responses of widespread lizard predators to colourful invertebrate prey. PLoS One, 9 (3). e91777. pp. 1-7.

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Abstract

Conspicuous colouration can evolve as a primary defence mechanism that advertises unprofitability and discourages predatory attacks. Geographic overlap is a primary determinant of whether individual predators encounter, and thus learn to avoid, such aposematic prey. We experimentally tested whether the conspicuous colouration displayed by Old World pachyrhynchid weevils (Pachyrhynchus tobafolius and Kashotonus multipunctatus) deters predation by visual predators (Swinhoe's tree lizard; Agamidae, Japalura swinhonis). During staged encounters, sympatric lizards attacked weevils without conspicuous patterns at higher rates than weevils with intact conspicuous patterns, whereas allopatric lizards attacked weevils with intact patterns at higher rates than sympatric lizards. Sympatric lizards also attacked masked weevils at lower rates, suggesting that other attributes of the weevils (size/shape/smell) also facilitate recognition. Allopatric lizards rapidly learned to avoid weevils after only a single encounter, and maintained aversive behaviours for more than three weeks. The imperfect ability of visual predators to recognize potential prey as unpalatable, both in the presence and absence of the aposematic signal, may help explain how diverse forms of mimicry exploit the predator's visual system to deter predation.

Item ID: 32984
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
Additional Information:

© 2014 Tseng et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Funders: National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC)
Projects and Grants: NSC 99-2621-B178-001-MY3, NSC 100-2311-B-029-004-MY3
Date Deposited: 30 Apr 2014 09:51
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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