Bioluminescence in firefly larvae: A test of the aposematic display hypothesis (Coleoptera: Lampyridae)
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We investigated the hypothesis that bioluminescence in firefly larvae (Coleoptera: Lampyridae) functions as an aposematic display. In two experiments, we confirmed the distastefulness of firefly larvae, and tested the hypothesis that a naive, nocturnal predator can learn to use light signals as aposematic cues for avoiding distasteful prey. Larvae were rejected as acceptable prey by 100% of the house mice (Mus musculus) tested. Mice learned to avoid bitter food associated with light cues significantly faster (P=0.003) than mice presented with food lacking light cues. We conclude that luminescent glowing in firefly larvae meets the requirements of an aposematic signal.
Key wordsfirefly Lampyridae: aposematism bioluminescence
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