SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Abstract

Experiments were conducted to examine the adaptive significance of Batesian mimicry in the swallowtail butterfly, Papilio polytes, with its model, Pacbliopta aristolochiae, an alkaloidal butterfly. The female of Pap. polytes is polymorphic, whereas the male is monomorphic. Two forms of the female, f. polytes mimic and f. cyrus non-mimic, were used in these experiments. Naive birds, brown-eared bulbuls Hypsipetes amaurotis pryeri, were trained to take food from two feeders in captivity, and then were offered Pach. aristolochiae in one of the feeders. After experiencing an uncomfortable encounter with this species, the birds reduced the frequency of taking regular food from the feeder where the butterfly had been placed. This result suggests that the birds can learn not only the model itself but also the place where they have experienced it. Thereafter, the birds also came to avoid the mimetic form of f. polytes. It is suspected that wild predators behave in the same way. These findings imply that it is adaptive for the mimic to overlap its habitats and daily activity with those of the model species.