Mimetic community and mimicry in butterflies: Study shows butterflies bedazzle predators and escape

Source: The post is based on the article “Study shows butterflies bedazzle predators and escape” published in The Hindu on 31st December 2022. 

What is the News? 

A study conducted by scientists of the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in Bengaluru has discovered secrets through which butterflies warn, fool, and escape their predators using their wing colour patterns and flight behaviour. 

What is Mimicry in butterflies and what is mimetic community?

It says that mimicry is an adaptive phenomenon in butterflies. In mimicry, a palatable organism (also known as mimics) resembles an unpalatable organism (also known as models) to deceive predators. 

Mimicry in butterflies is not limited to the resemblance in wing colour patterns alone, some mimics have also evolved to imitate the flight behaviours of model species. 

Therefore, multiple models and mimic butterflies could be found in the same habitat at the same time. These similar-looking co-occurring butterflies together form a mimetic community. 

Mimetic communities are generally common in tropical and sub-tropical biodiversity hotspots. 

What are the key findings of the study?

Scientists investigated the butterfly mimetic communities of the Western Ghats. The findings have provided how the rate of trait evolution helps butterflies to escape their predators. 

Scientists believe that the evolution of traits depends on the age, size and complexity of the biological communities. 

Note: Palatable organisms are those organisms which are attractive to predators while unpalatable are those that do not attract predators. Mimicry occurs when one species of animal resembles another species that have easily recognizable characteristics and as a result deceives a potential predator that might capture and eat it. 

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