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Arizona State University

1. Seymoure, Brett Michael. Heliconius in a New Light: The Effects of Light Environments on Mimetic Coloration, Behavior, and Visual Systems.

Degree: Biology, 2016, Arizona State University

Although mimetic animal coloration has been studied since Darwin's time, many questions on the efficacy, evolution, and function of mimicry remain unanswered. Müller (1879) hypothesized that unpalatable individuals converge on the same conspicuous coloration to reduce predation. However, there are many cases where closely related, unpalatable species have diverged from a shared conspicuous pattern. What selection pressures have led to divergence in warning colors? Environmental factors such as ambient light have been hypothesized to affect signal transmission and efficacy in animals. Using two mimetic pairs of Heliconius butterflies, Postman and Blue-white, I tested the hypothesis that animals with divergent mimetic colors segregate by light environment to maximize conspicuousness of the aposematic warning signal under their particular environmental conditions. Each mimetic pair was found in a light environment that differed in brightness and spectral composition, which affected visual conspicuousness differently depending on mimetic color patch. I then used plasticine models in the field to test the hypothesis that mimics had higher survival in the habitat where they occurred. Although predation rates differed between the two habitats, there was no interactive effect of species by habitat type. Through choice experiments, I demonstrated that mimetic individuals preferred to spend time in the light environment where they were most often found and that their absolute visual sensitivity corresponds to the ambient lighting of their respective environment. Eye morphology was then studied to determine if differences in total corneal surface area and/or facet diameters explained the differences in visual sensitivities, but the differences found in Heliconius eye morphology did not match predictions based upon visual sensitivity. To further understand how eye morphology varies with light environments, I studied many tropical butterflies from open and closed habitats to reveal that forest understory butterflies have larger facets compared to butterflies occupying open habitats. Lastly, I tested avian perception of mimicry in a putative Heliconius mimetic assemblage and show that the perceived mimetic resemblance depends upon visual system. This dissertation reveals the importance of light environments on mimicry, coloration, behavior and visual systems of tropical butterflies.

Subjects/Keywords: Biology; Zoology; Ecology; Butterflies; Electroretinography; Irradiance; Plasticine Models; Visual Models; Visual Sensitivity

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APA (6th Edition):

Seymoure, B. M. (2016). Heliconius in a New Light: The Effects of Light Environments on Mimetic Coloration, Behavior, and Visual Systems. (Doctoral Dissertation). Arizona State University. Retrieved from http://repository.asu.edu/items/39452

Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):

Seymoure, Brett Michael. “Heliconius in a New Light: The Effects of Light Environments on Mimetic Coloration, Behavior, and Visual Systems.” 2016. Doctoral Dissertation, Arizona State University. Accessed September 23, 2020. http://repository.asu.edu/items/39452.

MLA Handbook (7th Edition):

Seymoure, Brett Michael. “Heliconius in a New Light: The Effects of Light Environments on Mimetic Coloration, Behavior, and Visual Systems.” 2016. Web. 23 Sep 2020.

Vancouver:

Seymoure BM. Heliconius in a New Light: The Effects of Light Environments on Mimetic Coloration, Behavior, and Visual Systems. [Internet] [Doctoral dissertation]. Arizona State University; 2016. [cited 2020 Sep 23]. Available from: http://repository.asu.edu/items/39452.

Council of Science Editors:

Seymoure BM. Heliconius in a New Light: The Effects of Light Environments on Mimetic Coloration, Behavior, and Visual Systems. [Doctoral Dissertation]. Arizona State University; 2016. Available from: http://repository.asu.edu/items/39452

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