Evolutionary Ecology

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 131–140 | Cite as

Fearful symmetry: pattern size and asymmetry affects aposematic signal efficacy

  • Anders Forsman
  • Sami Merilaita
Article

Abstract

Aposematic animals use anti-predator defence mechanisms such as distastefulness coupled with distinctive odours, sounds, or colour visual signals to predation from domestic chicks we show that the protective value of such visual warning displays is enhanced by increasing size of the signal pattern elements and decreased by pattern asymmetry. These results provide the first experimental evidence that predation may select for individual symmetry of visual warning displays, and concur with earlier demonstrations that asymmetric signals are more difficult to detect, learn, and remember, compared to symmetric signals. Collectively, our findings suggest that prey species possessing warning coloration should be subjected to selection for large and symmetric pattern elements.

animal coloration aposematism evolution fluctuating asymmetry perception predation 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Alatalo, R.V. and Mappes, J. (1996) Tracking the evolution of warning signals. Nature 382, 708–709.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Attneave, F. (1954) Some informational aspects of visual perception. Psychol. Rev. 61, 183–193.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blest, A.D. (1957) The function of eyespot patterns in the Lepidoptera. Behaviour 11, 209–256.Google Scholar
  4. Brakefield, P.M. and Breuker, C.J. (1996) The genetical basis of fluctuating asymmetry for developmentally integrated traits in a butterfly eyespot pattern. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 263, 1557–1563.Google Scholar
  5. Coppinger, R.P. (1969) The effect of experience and novelty on avian feeding behaviors with reference to the evolution of warning coloration in butterflies. Part I: reactions of wild-caught adult blue jays to novel insects. Behaviour 35, 45–49.Google Scholar
  6. Coppinger, R.P. (1970) The effect of experience and novelty on avian feeding behaviors with reference to the evolution of warning coloration in butterflies. Part II: reactions of naive birds to novel insects. Am. Nat. 104, 323–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cott, H.B. (1940) Adaptive Coloration in Animals. Methuen, London, UK.Google Scholar
  8. Delius, J.D. and Nowak, B. (1982) Visual symmetry recognition by pigeons. Psychol. Res. 44, 199–212.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Edmunds, M. (1974) Defence in Animals: a Survey of Anti-Predator Defences. Longman, Harlow, Essex, UK.Google Scholar
  10. Endler, J.A. (1991) Interactions between predators and prey. In J.R. Krebs and N.B. Davies (eds) Behavioural Ecology an Evolutionary Approach, 3rd edn. Blackwell, Oxford, UK, pp. 169–196.Google Scholar
  11. Gallup, Jr. G.G. (1977) Tonic immobility: the role of fear and predation. The Psychol. Record 1977. 41–61.Google Scholar
  12. Gamberale, G. and Tullberg, B. (1996) Evidence for a peak-shift in predator generalization among aposematic prey. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 263, 1329–1334.Google Scholar
  13. Gittleman, J.L. and Harvey, P.H. (1980) Why are distasteful prey not cryptic? Nature 286, 149–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Guilford, T. (1990) Evolutionary pathways to aposematism. Acta Oecologica 11, 835–842.Google Scholar
  15. Guilford, T. and Dawkins, M.S. (1991) Receiver psychology and the evolution of animal signals. Anim. Behav. 42, 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hoffman, A.A. and Parsons, P.A. (1994) Evolutionary Genetics and Environmental Stress. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.Google Scholar
  17. Horridge, G.A. (1996) The honeybee (Apis mellifera) detects bilateral symmetry and discriminates its axis. J. Insect Phys. 42, 755–764.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kirkpatrick, M. and Rosenthal, G.G. (1994) Symmetry without fear. Nature 372, 134–135.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Marples, N.M. and Roper, T.J. (1996) Effects of novel colour and smell on the response of naïve chicks towards food and water. Anim. Behav. 51, 1417–1424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Moodie, G.E.E. and Reimchen, T.E. (1976) Phenetic variation and habitat differences in Gasterosteus populations of the Queen Charlotte Islands. Syst. Zool. 25, 49–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Møller, A.P. (1993) Female preference for apparently symmetrical male sexual ornaments in the barn swallow Hirundo rustica. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 32, 371–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Møller, A.P. (1996) Sexual selection, viability selection, and developmental stability in the domestic fly Musca domestica. Evolution 50, 746–752.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Møller, A.P. and Nielsen, J.T. (1997) Differential predation cost of a secondary sexual character: sparrowhawk predation on barn swallows. Anim. Behav. 54, 1545–1551.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Møller, A.P. and Pomiankowksi, A. (1993a) Fluctuating asymmetry and sexual selection. Genetica 89, 267–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Møller, A.P. and Pomiankowksi, A. (1993b) Punctuated equilibria or gradual evolution: fluctuating asymmetry and variation in the rate of evolution. J. Theor. Biol. 161, 359–367.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Møller, A.P. and Swaddle, J.P. (1997) Asymmetry, Developmental Stability and Evolution. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.Google Scholar
  27. O'Brian, R.G. and Kaiser, M.K. (1985) MANOVA method for analyzing repeated measures designs: an extensive primer. Psychol. Bull. 97, 316–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. O'Brien, T.J. and Dunlap, W.P. (1975) Tonic immobility in the blue crab (Callinectes sapidus, Rathbun): its relation to threat of predation. J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol. 89, 86–94.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Osorio, D. (1996) Symmetry detection by categorization of spatial phase, a model. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 263, 105–110.Google Scholar
  30. Poulton, E.B. (1890) The Colour of Animals: their Meaning and Use. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, London, UK.Google Scholar
  31. Rice, W.R. and Gaines, S.D. (1994) Extending nondirectional heterogeneity tests to evaluate simply ordered alternative hypotheses. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 91, 225–226.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Roper, T.J. and Cook, S.E. (1989) Responses of chicks to brightly colored insect prey. Behaviour 110, 276–293.Google Scholar
  33. Roper, T.J. and Redstone, S. (1987) Conspicuousness of distasteful prey affects the strength and durability of one-trial avoidance learning. Anim. Behav. 35, 739–747.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Rowe, C. and Guilford, T. (1996) Hidden colour aversions in domestic chicks triggered by pyrazine odours of insect warning displays. Nature 383, 520–522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rowe, L., Repaski, R.R. and Palmer, A.R. (1997) Size-dependent asymmetry: fluctuating asymmetry versus antisymmetry and its relevance to condition-dependent signalling. Evolution 51, 1401–1408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Sargent, T.D. (1990) Startle as an anti-predator mechanism, with special reference to the underwing moths, (Catocala). In D.L. Evans and J.O. Schmidt (eds) Insect Defences — Adaptive Mechanisms and Strategies of Prey and Predators. State University of New York Press, Albany, USA, pp. 229–249.Google Scholar
  37. Schwabl, U. and Delius, J.D. (1984) Visual bar length discrimination threshold in the pigeon. Bird Behav. 5, 118–121.Google Scholar
  38. Swaddle, J.P. (1997) Developmental stability and predation success in an insect predator-prey system. Behav. Ecol. 8, 433–436.Google Scholar
  39. Tinbergen, N. (1974) Curious Naturalists. Penguin Education, Harmondsworth, The Netherlands.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anders Forsman
    • 1
  • Sami Merilaita
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Engineering and Natural SciencesVäxjö UniversityVäxjöSweden
  2. 2.Department of Animal Ecology, Evolutionary Biology CentreUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

Personalised recommendations