Article

Mimicry

David W. Kikuchi and David W. Pfennig

in Ecology

ISBN: 9780199830060
Published online May 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199830060-0027
Mimicry

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  • Applied Ecology (Environmental Science)
  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Plant Ecology
  • Zoology and Animal Sciences

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Among nature’s most exquisite adaptations are examples in which natural selection has favored a species (the mimic) to resemble a second, often unrelated species (the model) because it confuses a third species (the receiver). For example, the individual members of a nontoxic species that happen to resemble a toxic species may dupe any predators by behaving as if they are also dangerous and should therefore be avoided. In this way, adaptive resemblances can evolve via natural selection. When this phenomenon—dubbed “mimicry”—was first outlined by Henry Walter Bates in the middle of the 19th century, its intuitive appeal was so great that Charles Darwin immediately seized upon it as one of the finest examples of evolution by means of natural selection. Even today, mimicry is often used as a prime example in textbooks and in the popular press as a superlative example of natural selection’s efficacy. Moreover, mimicry remains an active area of research, and studies of mimicry have helped illuminate such diverse topics as how novel, complex traits arise; how new species form; and how animals make complex decisions.

Article.  10572 words. 

Subjects: Applied Ecology (Environmental Science) ; Ecology and Conservation ; Plant Ecology ; Zoology and Animal Sciences

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