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Warning signals and predator-prey coevolution

Franks, D.W. and Noble, J. (2004) Warning signals and predator-prey coevolution. Proceedings of the Royal Society Series B, 271 (1550). pp. 1859-1865. ISSN 0962-8452

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Abstract

Theories of the evolution of warning signals are typically expressed using analytic and computational models, most of which attribute aspects of predator psychology as the key factors facilitating the evolution of warning signals. Sherratt provides a novel and promising perspective with a model that considers the coevolution of predator and prey populations, showing how predators may develop a bias towards attacking cryptic prey in preference to conspicuous prey. Here, we replicate the model as an individual-based simulation and find, in accordance with Sherratt, that predators evolve a bias towards attacking cryptic prey. We then use a Monte Carlo simulation to calculate the relative survivorships of cryptic and conspicuous prey and stress that, as it stands, the model does not predict the evolution or stability of warning signals. We extend the model by giving predators continuous attack strategies and by allowing the evolution of prey conspicuousness: results are robust to the first modification but, in all cases, cryptic prey always enjoy a higher survivorship than conspicuous prey. When conspicuousness is allowed to evolve, prey quickly evolve towards crypsis, even when runaway coevolution is enabled. Sherratt's approach is promising, but other aspects of predator psychology, besides their innate response, remain vital to our understanding of warning signals

Item Type: Article
Institution: The University of York
Academic Units: The University of York > Biology (York)
Depositing User: York RAE Import
Date Deposited: 19 Feb 2009 11:15
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2009 11:23
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2004.2795
Status: Published
Publisher: Royal Society, The
Identification Number: 10.1098/rspb.2004.2795
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/7364

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