First record of potential Batesian mimicry in an elasmobranch: Juvenile zebra sharks mimic banded sea snakes?

Dudgeon, Christine L. and White, William T. (2012) First record of potential Batesian mimicry in an elasmobranch: Juvenile zebra sharks mimic banded sea snakes?. Marine and Freshwater Research, 63 6: 545-551. doi:10.1071/MF11211


Author Dudgeon, Christine L.
White, William T.
Title First record of potential Batesian mimicry in an elasmobranch: Juvenile zebra sharks mimic banded sea snakes?
Journal name Marine and Freshwater Research   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1323-1650
1448-6059
Publication date 2012
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1071/MF11211
Volume 63
Issue 6
Start page 545
End page 551
Total pages 7
Place of publication Collingwood, VIC, Australia
Publisher CSIRO Publishing
Collection year 2013
Language eng
Abstract Various forms of mimicry have been recorded in a large number of marine fishes; however, there have been no records of mimicry for any elasmobranch species. We propose that the distinctly banded neonates of the zebra shark (Stegostoma fasciatum) are Batesian mimics of banded sea snakes (Elapidae). Observations of banded juveniles of S. fasciatum swimming close to the surface strongly resemble banded sea snakes in colour and body form as well as the undulatory swimming movements. Sea snakes are venomous and are known to defend themselves against predators. Although several shark species prey on them, most species appear to avoid sea snakes as prey items. Juvenile S. fasciatum possess a very long, single-lobed caudal fin that remarkably resembles the broad, paddle-like tail of sea snakes. This may be an adaptation enabling this species to mimic sea snakes, at least in the earliest life stages. There is a need for empirical testing of the hypothesis that juvenile S. fasciatum is a true example of Batesian mimicry, but here we provide evidence that suggests this may be the first example of mimicry in an elasmobranch species.
Keyword Leopard shark
Predator avoidance
Sea snake
Stegostoma fasciatum
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2013 Collection
School of Veterinary Science Publications
 
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