Does the abundance of hoverfly mimics (Syrphidae) depend on the numbers of their hymenopteran models ?
Howarth, Brigitte and Edmunds, Malcolm and Gilbert, Francis (2004) Does the abundance of hoverfly mimics (Syrphidae) depend on the numbers of their hymenopteran models ? Evolution . (In Press)
We tested the prediction that, if hoverflies are Batesian mimics, this may extend to behavioral mimicry such that their numerical abundance at each hour of the day (the daily activity pattern) is related to the numbers of their hymenopteran models. After accounting for site, season, microclimatic responses and for general hoverfly abundance at three sites in north-west England, the residual numbers of mimics were significantly correlated positively with their models 9 times out of 17, while 16 out of 17 relationships were positive, itself a highly significant non-random pattern. Several eristaline flies showed significant relationships with honeybees even though some of them mimic wasps or bumblebees, perhaps reflecting an ancestral resemblance to honeybees. There was no evidence that good and poor mimics differed in their daily activity pattern relationships with models. However, the common mimics showed significant activity pattern relationships with their models, but the rarer mimics did not. We conclude that many hoverflies show behavioral mimicry of their hymenopteran models.
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