Stabilizing selection on individual pattern elements of aposematic signals

Winters, Anne E., Green, Naomi F., Wilson, Nerida G., How, Martin J., Garson, Mary J., Marshall, N. Justin and Cheney, Karen L. (2017) Stabilizing selection on individual pattern elements of aposematic signals. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 284 1861: . doi:10.1098/rspb.2017.0926

Author Winters, Anne E.
Green, Naomi F.
Wilson, Nerida G.
How, Martin J.
Garson, Mary J.
Marshall, N. Justin
Cheney, Karen L.
Title Stabilizing selection on individual pattern elements of aposematic signals
Journal name Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0962-8452
Publication date 2017-08-30
Year available 2017
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1098/rspb.2017.0926
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 284
Issue 1861
Total pages 9
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher The Royal Society Publishing
Language eng
Subject 2700 Medicine
2400 Immunology and Microbiology
1300 Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
2300 Environmental Science
1100 Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Abstract Warning signal variation is ubiquitous but paradoxical: low variability should aid recognition and learning by predators. However, spatial variability in the direction and strength of selection for individual elements of the warning signal may allow phenotypic variation for some components, but not others. Variation in selection may occur if predators only learn particular colour pattern components rather than the entire signal. Here, we used a nudibranch mollusc, Goniobranchus splendidus, which exhibits a conspicuous red spot/white body/yellowrim colour pattern, to test this hypothesis. We first demonstrated that secondary metabolites stored within the nudibranch were unpalatable to a marine organism. Using pattern analysis, we demonstrated that the yellow rim remained invariable within and between populations; however, red spots varied significantly in both colour and pattern. In behavioural experiments, a potential fish predator, Rhinecanthus aculeatus, used the presence of the yellow rims to recognize and avoid warning signals. Yellow rims remained stable in the presence of high genetic divergence among populations. We therefore suggest that how predators learn warning signals may cause stabilizing selection on individual colour pattern elements, and will thus have important implications on the evolution of warning signals.
Keyword Colour pattern
Warning signals
Genetic differentiation
Marine molluscs
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

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Created: Thu, 31 Aug 2017, 15:09:14 EST by Dr Karen Cheney on behalf of School of Biological Sciences