Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Proc Biol Sci. 2002 Apr 7;269(1492):741-6.

The coevolution of warning signals.

Author information

1
School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, University of Durham, South Road, Durham DH1 3LE, UK. t.n.sherratt@durham.ac.uk

Abstract

It has long been recognized that defended prey tend to be conspicuous. Current theories suggest that the association ('aposematism') has arisen because predators more readily learn to avoid attacking defended phenotypes when they are conspicuous. In this paper, I consider why such psychology has evolved. In particular, I argue that aposematism may have evolved not because of an independent and pre-existing receiver bias, but because the conspicuousness of a prey item provides a reliable indicator of its likelihood of being defended. To develop my case I consider how warning signals might coevolve in a system containing a number of predators, whose foraging behaviour is also subject to selection. In these cases, models readily show that the greater the conspicuousness of a novel prey item, the more likely that it has been encountered by other predators and survived. As a consequence, naive predators should be less likely to attack highly conspicuous novel prey on encounter, or at least more inclined to attack them cautiously. This adaptive predator behaviour will greatly facilitate the spread of aposematic phenotypes from extreme rarity, which in turn will enhance selection for forms of predator behaviour under which aposematism will coevolve even more readily.

PMID:
11934367
PMCID:
PMC1690947
DOI:
10.1098/rspb.2001.1944
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center