Explaining the evolution of warning coloration: Secreted secondary defence chemicals may facilitate the evolution of visual aposematic signals

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Abstract

Several pathways have been postulated to explain the evolution of warning coloration, which is a perplexing phenomenon. Many of these attempt to circumvent the problem of naïve predators by inferring kin selection or neophobia. Through a stochastic model, we show that a secreted secondary defence chemical can provide selective pressure, on the individual level, towards developing warning coloration. Our fundamental assumption is that increased conspicuousness will result in longer assessment periods and divergence from the predators' searching image, thus reducing the probability of a predator making mistakes. We conclude that strong olfactory signaling by means of chemical secretions can lead to the evolution of warning coloration.

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Gohli, J., & Högstedt, G. (2009). Explaining the evolution of warning coloration: Secreted secondary defence chemicals may facilitate the evolution of visual aposematic signals. PLoS ONE, 4(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0005779

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