, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 197-212

Towards a historization of aposematism

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Abstract

Aposematism is one of the oldest phenomena in evolutionary biology and still a major puzzle to biologists. Despite its evolutionary nature, most attempts to understand aposematism are devoid of phylogenetic components. In addition, most studies that do take phylogeny into account need to bring the analysis even further. We argue that in order to fully understand aposematism we must have a clear picture of the evolutionary history behind present behaviours. In this paper we frame aposematism in a phylogenetic context and argue that most studies still are wanting in terms of demonstrating aposematism. Aposematism is not an end product but rather evolutionary scenarios including character transformations as well as prey–predator interactions. Finally, we suggest that, regardless how we restrict the concept of aposematism, knowing the directions of events facilitate all kinds of comparisons with a promise of uniting functional and evolutionary aspects into a historization of aposematism.