Coincidental resemblances among coral reef fishes from different oceans
KeywordsSimilar Pattern Natural Selection Coral Reef Marine Organism Careful Consideration
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In mimicry, natural selection, through the actions of the mimicry target, matches the mimic’s appearance to that of its model (Wickler 1968). Mimicry involving precise resemblances between species is common in terrestrial and marine organisms and occurs, infrequently, among coral reef fishes. Behavioral associations between approximately similar species of such fishes, which are more common, often are assumed to be mimetic because they (could) benefit one or both protagonists. However, such associating species may have independently (i.e., convergently) evolved similar appearances before the association developed. Such pseudo-mimetic relationships could develop when look-alike species have similar patterns of habitat use, and after being attracted by the similarity of the other, one learns of benefits from associating with it (Robertson 2013). Figure 1 shows six groups of look-alike species with similar habitat usage. The within-group resemblance in each case must be due to convergence rather than mimicry because they evolved in different oceans. These examples illustrate the necessity for careful consideration of competing hypotheses about the origins of morphological similarities and behavioral associations among coral reef fishes, although distinguishing pseudo-mimicry from the real thing will not be easy in many cases.
- Wickler W (1968) Mimicry in plants and animals. McGraw Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
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