Animal Behavior: Mimicry Lab Report

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  • Topic: Predation, Mimicry, Batesian mimicry
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  • Published : December 8, 2012
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Taste Aversion Learning by Birds in Colchester, Vermont on the Saint Michael’s College campus: A Study of Batesian Mimicry

Dana Dipinto
April 11,2012
Animal Behavior
Mimicry Lab Report
Taste Aversion Learning by Birds in Colchester, Vermont on the Saint Michael’s College Campus: A Study of Batesian Mimicry

This study’s purpose was to learn and investigate the different aspects of Batesian mimicry, learn bird species common to the area, their different foraging behaviors, and investigate if a modification to their foraging behaviors can be implemented through learning. We will also measure the effectiveness of the mimicry when relative frequencies of models and mimics are changed. This was done by creating palatable and non-palatable red, green, and purple prey out of flour and lard. They were placed on a feeding try in random arrays with the same relative frequencies twice daily. Our groups null hypothesis was that there would be no particular preference in the colors of prey that were removed by the birds. After concluding our results we were able to reject our null hypothesis because our data indicated that there in fact was a particular preference in prey color chosen by the birds.

There are so many different species throughout nature that different species need to find ways to survive and not become victim to their predators. One tactic that species use in nature is mimicry. Species that are not poisonous will mimic the characteristics of other species that are. This will evade their predator keeping them safe and unharmed as a prey. Although there are many different types of mimicry, there are two main forms; Batesian mimicry and Mullerian mimicry. Batesian mimicry describes when there is an unpalatable model species and a palatable mimic species. The mimic takes on the appearance of a species that is harmful to predators in order to protect itself. The predator is not able to distinguish between the two and therefore does not try to attack either of the two species. The other important form of mimicry is called the Mullerian mimicry, in which the model is not defined and several unpalatable species share warning colors or patterns to evade predation. Both models and mimics are toxic. The advantage is that the predators need only encounter one form to shun the entire complex (brisbaneinsects 2007). This study deals specifically with the Batesian form of mimicry. Nature provides many different examples of this, such as many different species of butterflies and yellow jackets (Banschbach, 2012). In Batesian mimicry there are three major roles that complete the mimicry. They are the predator, the model species, and the mimic. The model should experience increases in attacks, while the mimic benefits, and the predator ultimately loses food.

After several encounters the predator species with the unpalatable model species will learn to stay away from any species that looks like or mimics the unpleasant tasting species. For this situation to be successful there are many different factors that need to be brought together. The mimic has to be much less frequent than the model, so that the predator will be much more likely to learn the meaning of the toxic signal. This is the first way of implementing our learning tactic. Also resembling the model is extremely important. The mimic role must be extremely close in relation to the model in order for the predator to be deceived. If one of these factors is changed than other factors could stray from the normality of the mimicry. An example of this would be that if the mimic species is not presented frequently enough than the predator may not get a negative correlation and learn from the situation. Our study deals with the learning responses from the birds to different frequencies of mimic species. We in return hypothesized from...
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