The evolution of Müllerian mimicry is, paradoxically, associated with high levels of diversity in color and pattern. In a mimetic radiation, different populations of a species evolve to resemble different models, which can lead to speciation. Yet there are circumstances under which initial selection for divergence under mimicry may be reversed. Here we provide evidence for the evolution of extensive phenotypic divergence in a mimetic radiation in Ranitomeya imitator, the mimic poison frog, in Peru. Analyses of color hue (spectral reflectance) and pattern reveal substantial divergence between morphs. However, we also report that there is a “transition-zone” with mixed phenotypes. Analyses of genetic structure using microsatellite variation reveals some differentiation between populations, but this does not strictly correspond to color pattern divergence. Analyses of gene flow between populations suggest that, while historical levels of gene flow were low, recent levels are high in some cases, including substantial gene flow between some color pattern morphs. We discuss possible explanations for these observations.
Examples of Müllerian mimicry, in which resemblance between unpalatable species confers mutual benefit, are rare in vertebrates. Strong comparative evidence for mimicry is found when the colour and pattern of a single species closely resemble several different model species simultaneously in different geographical regions. Todemonstrate this, it is necessary to provide compelling evidence that the putative mimics do, in fact, form a monophyletic group. We present molecular phylogenetic evidence that the poison frog Dendrobates imitator mimics three different poison frogs in different geographical regions in Peru. DNA sequences from four different mitochondrial gene regions in putative members of a single species are analysed using parsimony, maximum-likelihood and neighbour-joining methods. The resulting hypotheses of phylogenetic relationships demonstrate that the different populations of D.imitator form a monophyletic group. To our knowledge, these results provide the first evidence for a Müllerian mimetic radiation in amphibians in which a single species mimics different sympatric species in different geographical regions.
Despite accumulating evidence for selection within natural systems, the importance of random genetic drift opposing Wright's and Fisher's views of evolution continue to be a subject of controversy. The geographical diversification of aposematic signals appears to be a suitable system to assess the factors involved in the process of adaptation since both theories were independently proposed to explain this phenomenon. In the present study, the effects of drift and selection were assessed from population genetics and predation experiments on poison-dart frogs, Ranitomaya imitator, of Northern Peru. We specifically focus on the transient zone between two distinct aposematic signals. In contrast to regions where high predation maintains a monomorphic aposematic signal, the transient zones are characterized by lowered selection and a high phenotypic diversity. As a result, the diversification of phenotypes may occur via genetic drift without a significant loss of fitness. These new phenotypes may then colonize alternative habitats if successfully recognized and avoided by predators. This study highlights the interplay between drift and selection as determinant processes in the adaptive diversification of aposematic signals. Results are consistent with the expectations of the Wright's shifting balance theory and represent, to our knowledge, the first empirical demonstration of this highly contested theory in a natural system.
Mimicry, in which one prey species (the Mimic) imitates the aposematic signals of another prey (the Model) to deceive their predators, has attracted the general interest of evolutionary biologists. Predator psychology, especially how the predator learns and forgets, has recently been recognized as an important factor in a predator–prey system. This idea is supported by both theoretical and experimental evidence, but is also the source of a good deal of controversy because of its novel prediction that in a Model/Mimic relationship even a moderately unpalatable Mimic increases the risk of the Model (quasi-Batesian mimicry).
We developed a psychology-based Monte Carlo model simulation of mimicry that incorporates a “Pavlovian” predator that practices an optimal foraging strategy, and examined how various ecological and psychological factors affect the relationships between a Model prey species and its Mimic. The behavior of the predator in our model is consistent with that reported by experimental studies, but our simulation's predictions differed markedly from those of previous models of mimicry because a more abundant Mimic did not increase the predation risk of the Model when alternative prey were abundant. Moreover, a quasi-Batesian relationship emerges only when no or very few alternative prey items were available. Therefore, the availability of alternative prey rather than the precise method of predator learning critically determines the relationship between Model and Mimic. Moreover, the predation risk to the Model and Mimic is determined by the absolute density of the Model rather than by its density relative to that of the Mimic.
Although these predictions are counterintuitive, they can explain various kinds of data that have been offered in support of competitive theories. Our model results suggest that to understand mimicry in nature it is important to consider the likely presence of alternative prey and the possibility that predation pressure is not constant.
It is now 130 years since Fritz Müller proposed an evolutionary explanation for the close similarity of co-existing unpalatable prey species, a phenomenon now known as Müllerian mimicry. Müller’s hypothesis was that unpalatable species evolve a similar appearance to reduce the mortality involved in training predators to avoid them, and he backed up his arguments with a mathematical model in which predators attack a fixed number (n) of each distinct unpalatable type in a given season before avoiding them. Here, I review what has since been discovered about Müllerian mimicry and consider in particular its relationship to other forms of mimicry. Müller’s specific model of associative learning involving a “fixed n” in a given season has not been supported, and several experiments now suggest that two distinct unpalatable prey types may be just as easy to learn to avoid as one. Nevertheless, Müller’s general insight that novel unpalatable forms have higher mortality than common unpalatable forms as a result of predation has been well supported by field experiments. From its inception, there has been a heated debate over the nature of the relationship between Müllerian co-mimics that differ in their level of defence. There is now a growing awareness that this relationship can be mediated by many factors, including synergistic effects between co-mimics that differ in their mode of defence, rates of generalisation among warning signals and concomitant changes in prey density as mimicry evolves. I highlight areas for future enquiry, including the possibility of Müllerian mimicry systems based on profitability rather than unprofitability and the co-evolution of defence.
Müllerian mimicry; Anti-apostatic selection; Warning signals; Predation
Müllerian mimicry, in which toxic species gain mutual protection from shared warning signals, is poorly understood in vertebrates, reflecting a paucity of examples. Indirect evidence for mimicry is found if monophyletic species or clades show parallel geographic variation in warning patterns. Here, we evaluate a hypothesis of Müllerian mimicry for the pitvipers in Southeast Asia using a phylogeny derived from DNA sequences from four combined mitochondrial regions. Mantel matrix correlation tests show that conspicuous red colour pattern elements are significantly associated with sympatric and parapatric populations in four genera. To our knowledge, this represents the first evidence of a Müllerian mimetic radiation in vipers. The putative mimetic patterns are rarely found in females. This appears paradoxical in light of the Müllerian prediction of monomorphism, but may be explained by divergent selection pressures on the sexes, which have different behaviours. We suggest that biased predation on active males causes selection for protective warning coloration, whereas crypsis is favoured in relatively sedentary females.
Müllerian mimicry; sex-limited; mitochondrial DNA phylogeny; green pitviper; Trimeresurus; hypothesis testing
Müllerian mimicry is common in aposematic animals but till recently, like other aspects of plant aposematism was almost unknown. Many thorny, spiny and prickly plants are considered aposematic because their sharp defensive structures are colorful and conspicuous. Many of these spiny plant species (e.g., cacti and Agave in North American deserts; Aloe, Euphorbia and acacias with white thorns in Africa; spiny plants in Ohio; and spiny members of the Asteraceae in the Mediterranean basin) have overlapping territories, and also similar patterns of conspicuous coloration, and suffer from the evolutionary pressure of grazing by the same large herbivores. I propose that many of these species form Müllerian mimicry rings.
aposematic coloration; defense; evolution; herbivory; müllerian mimicry; spines; thorns
Müllerian mimicry, where two unpalatable species share a warning pattern, is classically believed to be a form of mutualism, where the species involved share the cost of predator education. The evolutionary dynamics of Müllerian mimicry have recently become a controversial subject, after mathematical models have shown that if minor alterations are made to assumptions about the way in which predators learn and forget about unpalatable prey, this textbook case of mutualism may not be mutualistic at all. An underlying assumption of these models is that Müllerian mimics possess the same defence chemical. However, some Müllerian mimics are known to possess different defence chemicals. Using domestic chicks as predators and coloured crumbs flavoured with either the same or different unpalatable chemicals as prey, we provide evidence that two defence chemicals can interact to enhance predator learning and memory. This indicates that Müllerian mimics that possess different defence chemicals are better protected than those that share a single defence chemical. These data provide insight into how multiple defence chemicals are perceived by birds, and how they influence the way birds learn and remember warningly coloured prey. They highlight the importance of considering how different toxins in mimicry rings can interact in the evolution and maintenance of Müllerian mimicry and could help to explain the remarkable variation in chemical defences found within and between species.
taste; perception; novelty; domestic chick; learning; memory
We studied whether similar developmental genetic mechanisms are involved in both convergent and divergent evolution. Mimetic insects are known for their diversity of patterns as well as their remarkable evolutionary convergence, and they have played an important role in controversies over the respective roles of selection and constraints in adaptive evolution. Here we contrast three butterfly species, all classic examples of Müllerian mimicry. We used a genetic linkage map to show that a locus, Yb, which controls the presence of a yellow band in geographic races of Heliconius melpomene, maps precisely to the same location as the locus Cr, which has very similar phenotypic effects in its co-mimic H. erato. Furthermore, the same genomic location acts as a “supergene”, determining multiple sympatric morphs in a third species, H. numata. H. numata is a species with a very different phenotypic appearance, whose many forms mimic different unrelated ithomiine butterflies in the genus Melinaea. Other unlinked colour pattern loci map to a homologous linkage group in the co-mimics H. melpomene and H. erato, but they are not involved in mimetic polymorphism in H. numata. Hence, a single region from the multilocus colour pattern architecture of H. melpomene and H. erato appears to have gained control of the entire wing-pattern variability in H. numata, presumably as a result of selection for mimetic “supergene” polymorphism without intermediates. Although we cannot at this stage confirm the homology of the loci segregating in the three species, our results imply that a conserved yet relatively unconstrained mechanism underlying pattern switching can affect mimicry in radically different ways. We also show that adaptive evolution, both convergent and diversifying, can occur by the repeated involvement of the same genomic regions.
In an intriguing example of adaptive evolution, genetic linkage analysis identifies a conserved region in distantly relatedHeliconius butterfly species that controls the diverse effects of wing patterning and mimicry.
Müllerian mimicry is a mutualism involving the evolutionary convergence of colour patterns of prey on a warning signal to predators. Behavioural mimicry presumably adds complexity to the signal and makes it more difficult for Batesian mimics to parasitize it. To date, no one has quantified behavioural mimicry in Müllerian mimicry groups. However, morphological similarities among members of mimicry groups suggested that pitching oscillations of the body and wing-beat frequency (WBF) might converge with colour pattern. I compared the morphology and kinematics of four Heliconius species, which comprised two mimicry pairs. Because the mimics arose from two distinct lineages, the relative contributions of mimicry and phylogeny to variation in the species' morphologies and kinematics were examined. The positions of the centre of body mass and centre of wing mass and wing shape diverged among species within lineages, and converged among species within mimicry groups. WBF converged within mimicry groups, and it was coupled with body pitching frequency. However, body-pitching frequency was too variable to distinguish mimicry groups. Convergence in WBF may be due, at least in part, to biomechanical consequences of similarities in wing length, wing shape or the centre of wing mass among co-mimics. Nevertheless, convergence in WBF among passion-vine butterflies serves as the first evidence of behavioural mimicry in a mutualistic context.
Müllerian mimicry describes the close resemblance between aposematic prey species; it is thought to be beneficial because sharing a warning signal decreases the mortality caused by sampling by inexperienced predators learning to avoid the signal. It has been hypothesized that selection for mimicry is strongest in multi-species prey communities where predators are more prone to misidentify the prey than in simple communities. In this study, wild great tits (Parus major) foraged from either simple (few prey appearances) or complex (several prey appearances) artificial prey communities where a specific model prey was always present. Owing to slower learning, the model did suffer higher mortality in complex communities when the birds were inexperienced. However, in a subsequent generalization test to potential mimics of the model prey (a continuum of signal accuracy), only birds that had foraged from simple communities selected against inaccurate mimics. Therefore, accurate mimicry is more likely to evolve in simple communities even though predator avoidance learning is slower in complex communities. For mimicry to evolve, prey species must have a common predator; the effective community consists of the predator's diet. In diverse environments, the limited diets of specialist predators could create ‘simple community pockets’ where accurate mimicry is selected for.
aposematism; avoidance learning; Batesian mimicry; generalization
Demonstrations of interactions between diverse selective forces on bright coloration in defended species are rare. Recent work has suggested that not only do the bright colours of Neotropical poison frogs serve to deter predators, but they also play a role in sexual selection, with females preferring males similar to themselves. These studies report an interaction between the selective forces of mate choice and predation. However, evidence demonstrating phenotypic discrimination by potential predators on these polymorphic species is lacking. The possibility remains that visual (avian) predators possess an inherent avoidance of brightly coloured diurnal anurans and purifying selection against novel phenotypes within populations is due solely to non-random mating. Here, we examine the influence of predation on phenotypic variation in a polymorphic species of poison frog, Dendrobates tinctorius. Using clay models, we demonstrate a purifying role for predator selection, as brightly coloured novel forms are more likely to suffer an attack than both local aposematic and cryptic forms. Additionally, local aposematic forms are attacked, though infrequently, indicating ongoing testing/learning and a lack of innate avoidance. These results demonstrate predator-driven phenotypic purification within populations and suggest colour patterns of poison frogs may truly represent a ‘magic trait’.
aposematic; selection; Dendrobates; magic trait
Batesian mimicry is the resemblance between unpalatable models and palatable mimics. The widely accepted idea is that the frequency and the unprofitability of the model are crucial for the introduction of a Batesian mimic into the prey population. However, experimental evidence is limited and furthermore, previous studies have considered mainly perfect mimicry (automimicry). We investigated imperfect Batesian mimicry by varying the frequency of an aposematic model at two levels of distastefulness. The predator encountered prey in a random order, one prey item at a time. The prey were thus presented realistically in a sequential way. Great tits (Parus major) were used as predators. This experiment, with a novel signal, supports the idea that Batesian mimics gain most when the models outnumber them. The mortalities of the mimics as well as the models were significantly dependent on the frequency of the model. Both prey types survived better the fewer mimics there were confusing the predator. There were also indications that the degree of distastefulness of the model had an effect on the survival of the Batesian mimic: the models survived significantly better the more distasteful they were. The experiment supports the most classical predictions in the theories of the origin and maintenance of Batesian mimicry.
Batesian Mimicry Imperfect Signal Model–Mimic Conflict
Phylogenetic community ecology uses phylogenetic relationships among species to infer the dominant processes that shape community ecological structure. This field has particularly focused on habitat filtering and competition, the latter driving divergence and competitive exclusion. However, the effects of positive interactions among species of the same guild have rarely been considered in either empirical studies or theoretical models. We have recently documented a pervasive influence of mutualism in driving adaptive convergence in ecological niche. Müllerian mimicry in butterflies is one of the best-studied examples of mutualism, where unpalatable species converge in wing pattern locally to advertise their toxicity to predators. We showed that species that share similar wing patterns are more similar in their ecology than expected given the phylogeny and co-exist at a fine spatial scale, thereby maximizing the warning signal to local predators. Evidence for competition was detected only among species with distinct wing patterns, implying that mutualistic interactions outweigh the effects of competition. Positive interactions among potential competitors are common among plants and animals. We argue that such forces should be considered in the field of phylogenetic community ecology, along-side neutral processes, habitat filtering and competition.
community ecology; phylogeny; mutualism; positive interactions; competition; müllerian mimicry; butterflies; ithomiinae
Whether hybridization can be a mechanism that drives phenotypic diversity is a widely debated topic in evolutionary biology. In poison frogs (Dendrobatidae), assortative mating has been invoked to explain how new color morphs persist despite the expected homogenizing effects of natural selection. Here, we tested the complementary hypothesis that new morphs arise through hybridization between different color morphs. Specifically, we (1) reconstructed the phylogenetic relationships among the studied populations of a dart-poison frog to provide an evolutionary framework, (2) tested whether microsatellite allele frequencies of one putative hybrid population of the polymorphic frog O. histrionica are intermediate between O. histrionica and O. lehmanni, and (3) conducted mate-choice experiments to test whether putatively intermediate females prefer homotypic males over males from the other two populations. Our findings are compatible with a hybrid origin for the new morph and emphasize the possibility of hybridization as a mechanism generating variation in polymorphic species. Moreover, because coloration in poison frogs is aposematic and should be heavily constrained, our findings suggest that hybridization can produce phenotypic novelty even in systems where phenotypes are subject to strong stabilizing selection.
Admixture; aposematism; coloration; hybridization; microsatellites; phenotypic variation; phylogenetics; poison frogs
Abundant, many-flowered plants represent reliable and rich food sources for animal pollinators, and may even sustain guilds of specialized pollinators. Contrastingly, rare plants need alternative strategies to ensure pollinators' visitation and faithfulness. Flower mimicry, i.e. the sharing of a similar flower colour and display pattern by different plant species, is a means by which a rare species can exploit a successful model and increase its pollination services. The relationship between two or more rewarding flower mimic species, or Müllerian mimicry, has been proposed as mutualistic, in contrast to the unilaterally beneficial Batesian floral mimicry. In this work, we show that two different geographical colour phenotypes of Turnera sidoides ssp. pinnatifida resemble co-flowering Malvaceae in colour as seen by bees' eyes, and that these pollinators do not distinguish between them when approaching flowers in choice tests. Main pollinators of T. sidoides are bees specialized for collecting pollen in Malvaceae. We demonstrate that the similarity between at least one of the geographical colour phenotypes of T. sidoides and co-flowering Malvaceae is adaptive, since the former obtains more pollination services when growing together with its model than when growing alone. Instead of the convergent evolution pattern attributed to Müllerian mimicry, our data rather suggest an advergent evolution pattern, because only T. sidoides seems to have evolved to be more similar to its malvaceous models.
flower mimicry; Müllerian; mutualism; Malvaceae; pollination; Turneraceae
Theory predicts strong stabilizing selection on warning patterns within species and convergent evolution among species in Müllerian mimicry systems yet Heliconius butterflies exhibit extreme wing pattern diversity. One potential explanation for the evolution of this diversity is that genetic drift occasionally allows novel warning patterns to reach the frequency threshold at which they gain protection. This idea is controversial, however, because Heliconius butterflies are unlikely to experience pronounced population subdivision and local genetic drift. To examine the fine-scale population genetic structure of Heliconius butterflies we genotyped 316 individuals from eight Costa Rican Heliconius species with 1428 AFLP markers. Six species exhibited evidence of population subdivision and/or isolation by distance indicating genetic differentiation among populations. Across species, variation in the extent of local genetic drift correlated with the roles different species have played in generating pattern diversity: species that originally generated the diversity of warning patterns exhibited striking population subdivision while species that later radiated onto these patterns had intermediate levels of genetic diversity and less genetic differentiation among populations. These data reveal that Heliconius butterflies possess the coarse population genetic structure necessary for local populations to experience pronounced genetic drift which, in turn, could explain the origin of mimetic diversity.
genetic differentiation; genetic drift; Müllerian mimicry; population structure
The evolution of warning coloration (aposematism) has been difficult to explain because rare conspicuous mutants should suffer a higher cost of discovery by predators relative to the cryptic majority, while at frequencies too low to facilitate predator aversion learning. Traditional models for the evolution of aposematism have assumed conspicuous prey phenotypes to be genetically determined and constitutive. By contrast, we have recently come to understand that warning coloration can be environmentally determined and mediated by local prey density, thereby reducing the initial costs of conspicuousness. The expression of density-dependent colour polyphenism is widespread among the insects and may provide an alternative pathway for the evolution of constitutive aposematic phenotypes in unpalatable prey by providing a protected intermediate stage. If density-dependent aposematism can function as an adaptive intermediate stage for the evolution of constitutive aposematic phenotypes, differential reaction norm evolution is predicted among related palatable and unpalatable prey populations. Here, I present empirical evidence that indicates that (i) the expression of density-dependent colour polyphenism has differentially evolved between palatable and unpalatable populations of the grasshopper Schistocerca emarginata (= lineata) (Orthoptera: Acrididae), and (ii) variation in plasticity between these populations is commensurate with the expected costs of conspicuousness.
Müllerian mimicry, where unpalatable prey share common warning patterns, has long fascinated evolutionary biologists. It is commonly assumed that Müllerian mimics benefit by sharing the costs of predator education, thus reducing per capita mortality, although there has been no direct test of this assumption. Here, we specifically measure the selection pressure exerted by avian predators on unpalatable prey with different degrees of visual similarity in their warning patterns. Using wild-caught birds foraging on novel patterned prey in the laboratory, we unexpectedly found that pattern similarity did not increase the speed of avoidance learning, and even dissimilar mimics shared the education of naive predators. This was a consistent finding across two different densities of unpalatable prey, although mortalities were lower at the higher density as expected. Interestingly, the mortalities of Müllerian mimics were affected by pattern similarity in the predicted way by the end of our experiment, although the result was not quite significant. This suggests that the benefits to Müllerian mimics may emerge only later in the learning process, and that predator experience of the patterns may affect the degree to which pattern similarity is important. This highlights the need to measure the behaviour of real predators if we are to understand fully the evolution of mimicry systems.
The polytypic Nicaraguan Midas cichlids (Amphilophus cf. citrinellus) have been established as a model system for studying the mechanisms of speciation and patterns of diversification in allopatry and sympatry. The species assemblage in Crater Lake Apoyo has been accepted as a textbook example for sympatric speciation. Here, we present a first comprehensive data set of population genetic (mtDNA & AFLPs) proxies of species level differentiation for a representative set of individuals of all six endemic Amphilophus species occurring in Crater Lake Apoyo. AFLP genetic differentiation was partitioned into a neutral and non-neutral component based on outlier-loci detection approaches, and patterns of species divergence were explored with Bayesian clustering methods. Substantial levels of admixture between species were detected, indicating different levels of reproductive isolation between the six species. Analysis of neutral genetic variation revealed several A. zaliosus as being introgressed by an unknown contributor, hereby rendering the sympatrically evolving L. Apoyo flock polyphyletic. This is contrasted by the mtDNA analysis delivering a clear monophyly signal with Crater Lake Apoyo private haplotypes characterising all six described species, but also demonstrating different demographic histories as inferred from pairwise mismatch distributions.
Ecological communities are structured in part by evolutionary interactions among their members. A number of recent studies incorporating phylogenetics into community ecology have upheld the paradigm that competition drives ecological divergence among species of the same guild. However, the role of other interspecific interactions, in particular positive interactions such as mutualism, remains poorly explored. We characterized the ecological niche and inferred phylogenetic relationships among members of a diverse community of neotropical Müllerian mimetic butterflies. Müllerian mimicry is one of the best studied examples of mutualism, in which unpalatable species converge in wing pattern locally to advertize their toxicity to predators. We provide evidence that mutualistic interactions can drive convergence along multiple ecological axes, outweighing both phylogeny and competition in shaping community structure. Our findings imply that ecological communities are adaptively assembled to a much greater degree than commonly suspected. In addition, our results show that phenotype and ecology are strongly linked and support the idea that mimicry can cause ecological speciation through multiple cascading effects on species' biology.
What governs the composition of communities of species? Competition promotes divergence in behavior and habitat, allowing species to co-exist. But the effects of other interactions, such as mutualism, are less well understood. We examined the interplay between mutualistic interactions, common ancestry and competition in mimetic butterflies, one of the best studied examples of mutualism, in which species converge in wing pattern to advertize their toxicity to predators. We showed that mutualism drives convergence in flight height and forest habitat, and that these effects outweigh common ancestry (which should lead related species to be more similar) and competition (which promotes ecological divergence). Our findings imply that species that benefit from one another might evolve to form more tightly knit local communities, suggesting that adaptation is a more important process affecting community composition than is commonly suspected. Our results also support the idea that mimicry can cause speciation, through its multiple cascading effects on species' biology.
Müllerian mimicry, a classic mutualism, is associated with microhabitat convergence in tropical butterflies, outweighing both common ancestry and competition. Positive interactions may thus be more important in community assembly than commonly assumed.
Vocal mimicry provides a unique system for investigating song learning and cultural evolution in birds. Male lyrebirds produce complex vocal displays that include extensive and accurate mimicry of many other bird species. We recorded and analysed the songs of the Albert's lyrebird (Menura alberti) and its most commonly imitated model species, the satin bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus), at six sites in southeast Queensland, Australia. We show that each population of lyrebirds faithfully reproduces the song of the local population of bowerbirds. Within a population, lyrebirds show less variation in song structure than the available variation in the songs of the models. These results provide the first quantitative evidence for dialect matching in the songs of two species that have no direct ecological relationship.
vocal mimicry; dialect matching; cultural transmission; song learning; lyrebirds
Mathematical models of mimicry typically involve artificial prey species with fixed colorations or appearances; this enables a comparison of predation rates to demonstrate the level of protection a mimic might be afforded. Fruitful theoretical results have been produced using this method, but it is also useful to examine the possible evolutionary consequences of mimicry. To that end, we present individual-based evolutionary simulation models where prey colorations are free to evolve. We use the models to examine the effect of Batesian mimics on Müllerian mimics and mimicry rings. Results show that Batesian mimics can potentially incite Müllerian mimicry relationships and encourage mimicry ring convergence.
Understanding the fate of hybrids in wild populations is fundamental to understanding speciation. Here we provide evidence for disruptive sexual selection against hybrids between Heliconius cydno and Heliconius melpomene. The two species are sympatric across most of Central and Andean South America, and coexist despite a low level of hybridization. No-choice mating experiments show strong assortative mating between the species. Hybrids mate readily with one another, but both sexes show a reduction in mating success of over 50% with the parental species. Mating preference is associated with a shift in the adult colour pattern, which is involved in predator defence through Müllerian mimicry, but also strongly affects male courtship probability. The hybrids, which lie outside the curve of protection afforded by mimetic resemblance to the parental species, are also largely outside the curves of parental mating preference. Disruptive sexual selection against F(1) hybrids therefore forms an additional post-mating barrier to gene flow, blurring the distinction between pre-mating and post-mating isolation, and helping to maintain the distinctness of these hybridizing species.
Culturally transmitted ideas or memes must have had a large effect on the survival and fecundity of early humans. Those with better techniques of obtaining food and making tools, clothing and shelters would have had a substantial advantage. It has been proposed that memes can explain why our species has an unusually large brain and high cognitive ability: the brain evolved because of selection for the ability to imitate. This article presents an evolutionary model of a population in which culturally transmitted memes can have both positive and negative effects on the fitness of individuals. It is found that genes for increased imitative ability are selectively favoured. The model predicts that imitative ability increases slowly until a mimetic transition occurs where memes become able to spread like an epidemic. At this point there is a dramatic increase in the imitative ability, the number of memes known per individual and the mean fitness of the population. Selection for increased imitative ability is able to overcome substantial selection against increased brain size in some cases.