Why are there imperfect Batesian mimics?

Warrin, Jonathan (2016) Why are there imperfect Batesian mimics? MRes thesis, University of Nottingham.

[img] PDF (Thesis - as examined) - Repository staff only - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (1MB)


Batesian mimicry is when an innocuous species avoids predation by mimicking a defended, harmful species (known as the model). It is expected that natural selection should be towards ever more accurate mimics, but, puzzlingly, mimicry is often imprecise.

One hypothesis that could explain some inaccurate mimicry is that some mimics might be generalist mimics of more than one model species, rather than specialist mimics. Using an online game with humans acting as predators it is shown that in some circumstances intermediate mimics of two models are more protected from predation than specialist mimics of either model.

In order to understand why imperfect mimicry persists, we need to know which aspects of the mimic’s appearance are salient to their predators. Humans acting as predators in an online quiz are shown to gain the most information about whether an insect is a defended wasp or an undefended wasp-mimicking hoverfly from the shape of the insect’s abdomen. It is also shown that humans appear to pay more attention to the abdomen’s colour than its shape.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (MRes)
Supervisors: Reader, Tom
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history. Biology > QH301 Biology (General)
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Life Sciences
Item ID: 32313
Depositing User: Warrin, Jonathan
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2016 12:30
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2016 15:27
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/32313

Actions (Archive Staff Only)

Edit View Edit View