Signal honesty and predation risk among a closely related group of aposematic species
Nature Publishing Group
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Many animals have bright colours to warn predators that they have defences and are not worth attacking. However, it remains unclear whether the strength of warning colours reliably indicate levels of defence. Few studies have unambiguously established if warning signals are honest, and have rarely considered predator vision or conspicuousness against the background. Importantly, little data exists either on how differences in signal strength translate into survival advantages. Ladybirds exhibit impressive variation in coloration both among and within species. Here we demonstrate that different levels of toxicity exist among and within ladybird species, and that signal contrast against the background is a good predictor of toxicity, showing that the colours are honest signals. Furthermore, field experiments with ladybird models created with regards to predator vision show that models with lower conspicuousness were attacked more frequently. This provides one of the most comprehensive studies on signal honesty in warning coloration to date.
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This is the author's final accepted version of the article Arenas, L.M. et al. Signal honesty and predation risk among a closely related group of aposematic species. Sci. Rep. 5, 11021; doi: 10.1038/srep11021 (2015). The open access article is available at http://www.nature.com/srep/2015/150605/srep11021/full/srep11021.html
Vol. 5, Article number: 11021