DOI: 0809.0391Sep 2, 2008Paper

Survival benefits in mimicry: a quantitative framework

Alexey Mikaberidze, Masudul Haque


Mimicry is a resemblance between species that benefits at least one of the species. It is a ubiquitous evolutionary phenomenon particularly common among prey species, in which case the advantage involves better protection from predation. We formulate a mathematical description of mimicry among prey species, to investigate benefits and disadvantages of mimicry. The basic setup involves differential equations for quantities representing predator behavior, namely, the probabilities for attacking prey at the next encounter. Using this framework, we present new quantitative results, and also provide a unified description of a significant fraction of the quantitative mimicry literature. The new results include `temporary' mutualism between prey species, and an optimal density at which the survival benefit is greatest for the mimic. The formalism leads naturally to extensions in several directions, such as the evolution of mimicry, the interplay of mimicry with population dynamics, etc. We demonstrate this extensibility by presenting some explorations on spatiotemporal pattern dynamics.

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