Bates v Müller

Amygdala aladgyma at
Sun Nov 21 15:29:46 EST 1999

Would anyone like to comment on this proposal? For example, is it
workable, and, if so, has it been made before?

>From my reading, Batesian mimicry is regarded as benefiting the
mimicking species, not the micmicked one. It's possible, however, that
both benefit. In Pavlovian terms, the warning colors of a poisonous
species are a conditioned stimulus that, with the unconditioned
stimulus of inedibility, creates a conditioned response of aversion in
predators. However, conditioned responses are stronger and
longer-lasting if the conditioned stimulus is coupled with the
unconditioned stimulus on some high percentage of occasions but not
all of them. This is what happens in Batesian mimicry: the conditioned
stimulus of color or patterning is not coupled with the unconditioned
stimulus of inedibility on all occasions.

A mixture of inedible targets and edible mimics, as in Batesian
mimicry, may therefore result in less overall predation than a mixture
of inedible co-mimics, as in Müllerian mimicry. Perhaps there is an
equilibrium in the population ratio of inedible/edible species in
Batesian mimicry at which the conditioned response of predators is
strongest. For example, is there a recurring ratio that is difficult
to explain in other ways?

Simon Whitechapel.


Amygdala: The World on a Website

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