TitleThe tempo and mode of character evolution in the assembly of mimetic communities.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsBasu DNath, Bhaumik V, Kunte K
JournalProc Natl Acad Sci U S A
Date Published2023 Jan 03
KeywordsAnimals, Biological Evolution, Biological Mimicry, Biota, Butterflies, Excipients, Female, Male, Phylogeny, Predatory Behavior

Multitrait adaptive evolution is shaped by factors such as phylogenetic and functional constraints as well as the intensity and direction of selection. The tempo and mode of such multitrait evolution can differentially impact the assembly of biological communities. Batesian mimicry, in which undefended prey gain a fitness advantage by evolving a resemblance to aposematic models, involves adaptive evolution of multiple traits such as color patterns and flight morphology. To elucidate the evolutionary mechanisms of such multitrait adaptations, we evaluated the tempo and mode of adaptive convergence in flight morphology and color patterns in mimetic butterfly communities. We found that compared with Batesian mimics or nonmimetic sister species, models showed significantly faster rates of aposematic trait evolution, creating adaptive peaks for mimicry. At the community level, the degree of mimetic resemblance between mimics and models was positively correlated with the rate of character evolution, but independent of phylogenetic relatedness. Monomorphic mimics and female-limited mimics converged on the color patterns of models to a similar degree, showing that there were no constraints on mimetic trait evolution with respect to sex-specific selections. Convergence was driven by the greater lability of color patterns, which evolved at significantly faster rates than the phylogenetically conserved flight morphological traits, indicating that the two traits evolve under differential selection pressures and/or functional and genetic constraints. These community-wide patterns show that during the assembly of a community, the tempo of adaptive evolution is nonlinear, and specific to the underlying functional relationships and key traits that define the community.

Alternate JournalProc Natl Acad Sci U S A
PubMed ID36577073