Date Published: January 14, 2009
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Author(s): David C. Marshall, Kathy B. R. Hill, Adam K. Chippindale. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0004185
Abstract: In aggressive mimicry, a predator or parasite imitates a signal of another species in order to exploit the recipient of the signal. Some of the most remarkable examples of aggressive mimicry involve exploitation of a complex signal-response system by an unrelated predator species.
Partial Text: In aggressive mimicry, a predator or parasite imitates a signal of another species in order to exploit the recipient of the signal. In some of the most remarkable cases, a predator species mimics complex sexual signals of its prey. The bolas spider (Mastophora sp.) attracts male moths of at least two species with a chemical imitation of moth sex pheromones , . The predaceous firefly Photuris versicolor lures male Photinus fireflies by mimicking female reply flashes, which have a specific timing in relation to the male’s signal , . Photuris versicolor’s mimicry is especially striking because of its versatility – the predator is able to mimic the species-specific female replies of up to eleven different prey species. Developing plausible adaptive hypotheses to account for the evolution of such complex mimicry is an intriguing challenge. In the case of Photuris and Photinus, at least, the close phylogenetic relatedness of predator and prey is likely involved.