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The evolution of multicomponent mimicry

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Publication details

JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
DatePublished - 21 Feb 2007
Issue number4
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)631-639
Original languageEnglish


The relative sizes of phenotypic mutations contributing to evolutionary change has long been the subject of debate. We describe how mimicry research can shed light on this debate, and frame mimicry studies within the general context of macromutationism and micromutationism. and punctuated versus gradual evolution. Balogh and Leimar [Mullerian mimicry: an examination of Fisher's theory of gradual evolutionary change. Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond. B Biol. Sci. 272, 2269-2275] have recently used a model to readdress the question of whether or not mimicry evolves gradually along a single dimension. We extend their approach, and present the first model to consider the effect of predator generalization along multiple components on the evolution of mimicry. We find that the gradual evolution of mimicry becomes increasingly less likely as the number of signal components increases, unless predators generalize widely over all components. However, we show that the contemporary two-step hypothesis (punctuated evolution followed by gradual refinement) can explain the evolution of Mullerian mimicry under all tested conditions. Thus, although the gradual evolution of mimicry is possible, the two-step hypothesis appears more generally applicable. Crown Copyright (c) 2006 Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Research areas

  • multicomponent, Mullerian mimicry, gradualism, advergence, generalization, HELICONIUS BUTTERFLIES, MULLERIAN MIMICRY, WARNING COLOR, ADAPTATION, GENETICS, RADIATION, PARADIGM

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