Deterministic Evolution via Immediate Benefits

neophobia A new aposematic form could in theory escape the disadvantage of being rare and novel by causing immediate avoidance without having to be tasted at all by the predator. Indeed, predators are somewhat reluctant to sample novel-looking prey, particularly if novelty is associated with bright colors. This phenomenon is called "neophobia," a kind of diet conservatism in predators. Neophobia could arise from various foraging biases, such as the formation of search images in the brains of predators as they search for edible-looking prey and ignore other prey, or via cultural inheritance, as with nestlings that tend to prey upon what they were fed by their parents. Neophobia is sometimes presented as a potential route toward aposematism. However, it does not really resolve the frequency dependence problem, because it is essentially a transient phenomenon involving no information acquisition by predators. Therefore as soon as numbers grow, however slightly, neophobia tends to vanish. Neophobia should best be classified as a predator's bias, like other innate biases against colors, smells, or sound, evolved by predators in response to their prey environment. Such biases are likely to channel the ultimate form taken by the aposematic signal (to the benefit of both preys and predators), but it is unlikely that they cause its evolution in the first place.

individual advantage One obvious way around initial obstacles is not to be killed by predators' attacks. Then, prey could both educate the predators and be avoided in subsequent encounters. Indeed, most birds taste-test their prey before ingesting them, and many aposematic prey have noxious compounds in their outer parts, making it possible to be tasted but not injured by predators. For instance, ithomi-ine and danaine butterflies concentrate alkaloid in their wings. Day-flying pericopine moths let a voluminous and bitter hemolymph froth out of their body, likely tasted (or smelled) by a predator before it has profoundly injured the moth. Moreover, most unpalatable butterflies have very elastic bodies, which resist crushing. Strong smells that predators take as a warning for bad taste or toxicity, like those of stinkbugs, are another way by which prey can gain immediate advantage without having to be effectively tasted by the predators.

prey already conspicuous Another way by which prey can overcome the difficulty of evolving conspicuous color is not to suffer any cost (i.e., avoid the necessity of a phenotypic leap) as a result of increased conspicuousness. Indeed, most flying insects are rather conspicuous in flight and rely on their difficulty of capture to escape predation. They may not suffer any cost to bearing conspicuous colors, and indeed many butterflies, if not most, irrespective of their palatability, display bright patches of colors on the upper side of their wings, visible in flight, while having cryptic underwings making them inconspicuous when sitting. Such bright dorsal colors might initially evolve as sexual signals in male—male or male—female interactions long before unpalat-ability evolves. Once noxiousness has evolved, predators can learn an already conspicuous pattern without making recognition errors because of the resemblance to the palatable prey they have as search images. In a way, conspicuous flying insects can be said to be "preadapted" to evolve warning colors. But such patterns can then also change or drift according to predators' biases. In particular, already bright color patterns can be enhanced toward brighter coloration through processes like peak shift, as described earlier. According to James Mallet, examples of this mechanism are the unpalatable Taenaris and Hyantis (Nymphalidae: Morphinae), which have evolved strikingly conspicuous warning spots via the enhancement of some of the less conspicuous eyespots that are still found on the undersides of their palatable relatives, the well-known blue Morpho butterflies.

mullerian mimicry The easiest way to avoid the cost of rarity and conspicuousness altogether is to jump to an apose-matic pattern already present in the habitat and known by the local predators. The shared appearance between several defended prey is called Mullerian mimicry, and it is likely that most aposematic species evolved via this route. Indeed, mimicry rings usually include a large number of Mullerian species (all of which are noxious). Of these, only one evolved the pattern first, followed by the other species that colonized an already protected pattern. This pattern of evolution is detectable by examining the biogeography and phylogeny of the species in question. For example, Heliconius erato and H. melpomene are Mullerian mimics throughout their distribution range. However, the H. melpomene was shown to have much younger color pattern races, with a clearly distinct genealogy, than H. erato, suggesting that H. melpomene is a Mullerian mimic that adopted the established color patterns of H. erato.

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