Article Title

The Evolution of Mimicry

Class Year



mathematical models, Gradual Evolution, phenotypic similarity, Evasive mimicry, Signal Accuracy, mimetic signal, noxious model, Ecosytem Dynamics, Selective Force, Initiation of Mimetic Evolution, Evolutionary Regulation of Mimetic Relationships


Cryptic species have evolved camouflage, which enhances survival by decreasing their visibility and thus protecting them from would-be predators. Conversely, aposematic species have evolved vibrant colors which enhance visibility. These warning signals work by helping unpalatable, toxic, evasive, or stinging prey stand out from more favorable prey. Thus, predators learn to generalize the appearance of prey which taste bad or can inflict pain (Balogh 2005). Yet, all species with aposematic coloration do not have other unfavorable features. These species, known as Batesian mimics, have evolved to look like model species which are unprofitable to predators (Mappes 1997). Thus, Batesian mimicry enhances survival of otherwise unprotected species, while increasing the attack rate of the model species and deceiving the predator (Ritland 1991). As such, Batesian mimicry is part of an evolutionary exploitative relationship, in which the mimic derives benefit at the prey and predators expense. Conversely, Müllerian mimicry, in which two (or more) unfavorable prey species share similar physical characteristics, actually benefits all of the directly involved species. Since the co-mimics are unfavorable and similar in appearance, Müllerian mimics are less likely to be consumed by predators. The predators benefit because they do not have to suffer the consequences of consuming the unfavorable prey. Thus, Müllerian mimicry is a complex evolutionary mutualism which enhances survival of the involved prey and predators alike (Gavrilets 1997). There are many questions regarding the evolutionary pathway of mimicry which have not yet been elucidated. . . . This review is a comprehensive analysis of primary literature focusing on addressing these evolutionary issues, while also evaluating the two-step hypothesis and the gradual hypothesis of Müllerian mimicry.


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