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Defensive animal and animal-action mimicry by plants

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ABSTRACTWhile plant mimicry by animals to make them cryptic from both prey and predators has received significant attention, the reverse situation, i.e. animal mimicry by plants as defense from herbivores, has been paid dramatically less. Here, in an essay intended to both stimulate and intrigue, I describe the various proposed types of defensive animal mimicry by plants, discuss the few published experimental tests of this hypothesis, and propose some future directions of research of defensive animal mimicry by plants. Animal mimicry by plants as defense from herbivores comprises two general types: direct animal mimicry, and mimicry of cues about animal action. The direct type includes bee, wasp, caterpillar, ant, aphid, beetle, butterfly, eye, and snake mimicry. The animal cue mimicry includes tunneling, chewing damage, spider web or arthropod silk, animal dung-shaped plants, and carrion and dung odors. These defenses include Batesian mimicry, masquerade, a mixture of Batesian mimicry and masquerade, and probably also perceptual exploitation. As an overlooked phenomenon, this area of evolutionary ecology has good potential for interesting finds.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology & Environment, Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Haifa – Oranim


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