Evolving dÈtente: The origin of warning signals via concurrent reciprocal selection

Casualties and impediments inflicted on consumers by defended prey, and vice versa, may be averted by vocalizations, postures, coloration, scents, and other warning, or so-called aposematic, displays. The existence of aposematic signals has challenged biologists who have sought plausible mechanisms for their evolution. Here, we elaborate on the rationale for the hypothesis that aposematic signals arise via concurrent reciprocal selection (CRS) enacted between inimical signal receivers and signal emitters, where signal emitters, e.g., defended prey, select against non-discriminating signal receivers, e.g., predators, and signal receivers select against unrecognized signal emitters. It is postulated that this mutual selective interaction culminates in the survival of discriminating signal receivers that avoid signal emitters, and recognized (distinctive) signal emitters that are avoided by signal receivers. A CRS hypothesis for the evolution of aposematism, therefore, maintains that distinctive features of prey arise in response to selection imposed by consumers, and that avoidances of those features by consumers arise in response to selection imposed by defended prey. We discuss the plausible inception of aposematism via CRS in light of related hypotheses, and describe points of concordance with previous observations and suggestions on the origin of aposematism. Aposematism arising via CRS is not contingent upon the relatedness of signallers, aversions acquired by learning, or other conditions postulated for some other evolutionary hypotheses. CRS is a credible alternative hypothesis for the evolution of warning signals in diverse consumer-prey interactions. © 2015 The Linnean Society of London.

Casualties and impediments inflicted on consumers by defended prey, and vice versa, may be averted by vocalizations, postures, coloration, scents, and other warning, or so-called aposematic, displays. The existence of aposematic signals has challenged biologists who have sought plausible mechanisms for their evolution. Here, we elaborate on the rationale for the hypothesis that aposematic signals arise via concurrent reciprocal selection (CRS) enacted between inimical signal receivers and signal emitters, where signal emitters, e.g., defended prey, select against non-discriminating signal receivers, e.g., predators, and signal receivers select against unrecognized signal emitters. It is postulated that this mutual selective interaction culminates in the survival of discriminating signal receivers that avoid signal emitters, and recognized (distinctive) signal emitters that are avoided by signal receivers. A CRS hypothesis for the evolution of aposematism, therefore, maintains that distinctive features of prey arise in response to selection imposed by consumers, and that avoidances of those features by consumers arise in response to selection imposed by defended prey. We discuss the plausible inception of aposematism via CRS in light of related hypotheses, and describe points of concordance with previous observations and suggestions on the origin of aposematism. Aposematism arising via CRS is not contingent upon the relatedness of signallers, aversions acquired by learning, or other conditions postulated for some other evolutionary hypotheses. CRS is a credible alternative hypothesis for the evolution of warning signals in diverse consumer-prey interactions. © 2015 The Linnean Society of London.

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