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Survival of the Fittest: Monarch and Viceroy Butterflies Essay

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Survival of the Fittest: Monarch and Viceroy Butterflies
Alyssa R Whitcher
Hodges University

BSC 1122
Megan Shoff
3 August 2015

            Survival of the Fittest: Monarch and Viceroy Butterflies

Adaptations are any behavioral or physical characteristics of an animal that help it to survive in its environment. A physical adaptation is a type of structural modification made to a part of the body. A behavioral adaptation is something an animal does- usually in response to some type of external stimulus. When you look at an animal, you usually can see some of its adaptations- what it is able to eat, how it moves, or how it protects itself. The adaptations of animals are matched to their mode of survival. Batesian mimicry is a phenomenon whereby unprotected prey species (mimics) gain protection from predators by mimicking toxic or otherwise protected species (models). Predators learn to avoid models based on prior experience, and subsequently avoid eating mimics due to misidentification. Hundreds of mimetic butterfly species are known in tropical forests. There is tremendous variation in the nature of Batesian mimicry: mimicry can be sexually monomorphic, polymorphic, or sex-limited within and across species. Early evolutionists such as Charles Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace, Henry Bates (who first proposed the theory of mimicry and in whose honor it is named) and Edward Poulton hailed Batesian mimicry as a fine example of natural selection pointing to the often perfect resemblance between the mimics and their models. They saw this as one of the strongest demonstrations of evolution by natural selection, in this case brought about through the agency of predators, such as birds. We now know many other good examples of natural selection but the interest in Batesian mimicry has persisted to this day among evolutionary biologists and for a good reason. There is a very strong theoretical framework for Batesian mimicry. Extensive field...

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