Rapid evolution of a Batesian mimicry trait in a butterfly responding to arrival of a new model

Mitsuho Katoh, Haruki Tatsuta, Kazuki Tsuji

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Batesian mimicry, a phenomenon in which harmless organisms resemble harmful or unpalatable species, has been extensively studied in evolutionary biology. Model species may differ from population to population of a single mimetic species, so different predation pressures might have driven micro-evolution towards better mimicry among regions. However, there is scant direct evidence of micro-evolutionary change over time in mimicry traits. Papilio polytes shows female-limited Batesian mimicry. On Okinawa, one mimicry model is Pachliopta aristolochiae, which was not present on the island until 1993. In P. polytes, the size of the hind-wing white spot, a mimetic trait, is maternally heritable. Among specimens collected between 1961 and 2016, the average white spot size was unchanged before the model's arrival but has rapidly increased since then. However, white spot size showed greater variance after the model's establishment than before. This suggests that before 1993, white spot size in this population was not selectively neutral but was an adaptive trait for mimicking an unpalatable native, Byasa alcinous, which looks like P. aristolochiae apart from the latter's hind-wing white spot. Thus, some females switched their model to the new one after its arrival.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6369
JournalScientific reports
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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