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Mimicry

Aggressive Mimicry

A less common but equally fascinating type of mimicry involves not only a model and a mimic, but a "dupe" species that is tricked by the mimicry. In the previously noted types of mimicry, the dupe is the predator who is tricked out of a potential food source, but in aggressive mimicry, the word is especially appropriate as being duped is lethal. In aggressive mimicry, the mimic is a predator who imitates, usually in behavior, a model species in order to draw in a dupe, who then becomes prey. An example of this occurs in spiders of the family Mimetidae (mimic), who attempting to draw in spiders of other species (dupe) as prey items, produce vibrations on the webs of the dupe that mimic the prey items (model) of the dupe. When the dupe is tricked, and approaches what it thinks is food, the mimic attacks it and eats it. Bolus spiders are another type of aggressive mimic. They produce chemicals that mimic the sex pheromones of particular moth species. When male moths approach what they perceive to be a female in order to mate with her, they are caught by the bolus spider and become prey.


Resources

Books

Gilbert, L.E. "Coevolution and Mimicry." In Coevolution Edited by D.J. Futuyma and M. Slatkin. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, Inc., 1983.

Vane-Wright, R.I. "Mimicry and its Unknown Ecological Consequences." In The Evolving Biosphere. edited by P.H. Greenwood, 157-168. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1980.


Puja Batra

KEY TERMS

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Aggressive mimicry

—A type of evolved mimicry in which the result of the mimicry is predation by the mimic on a naive "dupe."

Batesian mimicry

—A type of mimicry in which a palatable species has evolved to look like an unpalatable one in order to escape predation.

Müllerian mimicry

—A type of mimicry in which two or more species evolve toward a similar appearance so that learned avoidance by a predator will result in fewer deaths for any given species.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Methane to Molecular clockMimicry - Batesian Mimicry, Müllerian Mimicry, Aggressive Mimicry