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Effects of lepidopteran eyespot components on the deterrence of predatory birds

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Circular markings, called eyespots, on the wings of Lepidoptera have been shown to be protective against predators. We tested the ‘conspicuousness-hypothesis’ and ‘eye mimicry-hypothesis’ by examining how ‘sparkle’ and colour pattern of eyespots deter predators. The rationale was to test the deterring effect of shape and colour pattern of the eyespots’ elements that are assumed to mimic lens eyes, namely iris, pupil, and sparkle by simultaneous exposure of lepidopteran dummies with equally conspicuous eyespots that differed in their similarity to lens eyes. The results provide evidence that circular and crescent-shaped ‘sparkles’ were more deterring than rectangular-shaped ‘sparkles’. The ‘sparkle’s’ UV-reflection had no effect on the deterrence. Our results support recent findings on the deterrent effect of the eyespot’s ‘sparkle’ and show that colour is less important for deterrence. The characteristic colour pattern of eyespots and illusion of three-dimensionality created by the ‘sparkle’ might contribute to the deterrent effect.

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Sensory Ecology, Department Biology, Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf, Germany

10.1163/1568539X-00003288
/content/journals/10.1163/1568539x-00003288
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2015-07-27
2018-09-23

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