Wednesday, August 10, 2016

First EXEB-meeting fall 2016: on the evolution of coral snake mimicry

Posted by Erik Svensson

I hope everybody have enjoyed the summer and has had some time to relax. It is time to start this fall's EXEB-meetings, and suggest we meet and discuss this recent beutiful paper on the evolution of Batesian mimicry between coral snakes and king snakes by Allison Rabosky and colleagues. The paper is open access and can be downloaded here. This paper contains a nice mixture of phylogenetic comparative methods, macroevolutionary questions, colour evolution, mimicry and herps! What more could one ask for? Abstract is appended below.

When: Tuesday August 16 at 10.00
Where: "Argumentet", 2nd floor, Ecology Building. 

I will bring "fika" :)

Coral snakes predict the evolution of mimicry across New World snakes 

Alison R. Davis Rabosky, Christian L. Cox, Daniel L. Rabosky, Pascal O. Title, Iris A. Holmes, Anat Feldman, Jimmy A. McGuire

Nature Communications 7, Article number: 11484 doi:10.1038/ncomms11484


Batesian mimicry, in which harmless species (mimics) deter predators by deceitfully imitating the warning signals of noxious species (models), generates striking cases of phenotypic convergence that are classic examples of evolution by natural selection. However, mimicry of venomous coral snakes has remained controversial because of unresolved conflict between the predictions of mimicry theory and empirical patterns in the distribution and abundance of snakes. Here we integrate distributional, phenotypic and phylogenetic data across all New World snake species to demonstrate that shifts to mimetic coloration in nonvenomous snakes are highly correlated with coral snakes in both space and time, providing overwhelming support for Batesian mimicry. We also find that bidirectional transitions between mimetic and cryptic coloration are unexpectedly frequent over both long- and short-time scales, challenging traditional views of mimicry as a stable evolutionary ‘end point’ and suggesting that insect and snake mimicry may have different evolutionary dynamics.


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