Signal categorization by foraging animals depends on ecological diversity
AffiliationUniv Arizona, Dept Ecol & Evolutionary Biol
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherELIFE SCIENCES PUBLICATIONS LTD
CitationKikuchi, D. W., Dornhaus, A., Gopeechund, V., & Sherratt, T. N. (2019). Signal categorization by foraging animals depends on ecological diversity. eLife, 8, e43965.
Rights© Copyright Kikuchi et al. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
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AbstractWarning signals displayed by defended prey are mimicked by both mutualistic (Mullerian) and parasitic (Batesian) species. Yet mimicry is often imperfect: why does selection not improve mimicry? Predators create selection on warning signals, so predator psychology is crucial to understanding mimicry. We conducted experiments where humans acted as predators in a virtual ecosystem to ask how prey diversity affects the way that predators categorize prey phenotypes as profitable or unprofitable. The phenotypic diversity of prey communities strongly affected predator categorization. Higher diversity increased the likelihood that predators would use a 'key' trait to form broad categories, even if it meant committing errors. Broad categorization favors the evolution of mimicry. Both species richness and evenness contributed significantly to this effect. This lets us view the behavioral and evolutionary processes leading to mimicry in light of classical community ecology. Broad categorization by receivers is also likely to affect other forms of signaling.
NoteOpen access journal
VersionFinal published version
SponsorsNational Institutes of Health [K12GM000708]; Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
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