Talk:Mimicry

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Good article Mimicry has been listed as one of the Natural sciences good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
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December 14, 2007 Good article nominee Listed
February 7, 2008 Good article reassessment Delisted
August 26, 2015 Good article nominee Listed
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Defining mimicry[edit]

The definition of mimicry has been a topic of confusion and controversy for over a century, so I can understand that depending on references chosen, it can vary. However, it is important that the definition used at the top of the article be inclusive enough that it be consistent with content listed below. If mimicry is defined as "protective" then it cannot include aggressive or reproductive mimicry. Furthermore, mimicry is a phenomenon with three parties involved: the mimic, the model, and the receiver (whose identities may overlap, depending on the system). Critically, the model has to be able to participate in coevolution as well - this distinguishes mimicry from masquerade. Finally, mimicry can evolve within species (for example sexual mimicry where males mimic females), so the definition should not be exclusive to species, but more inclusively to organisms generally. Therefore, it would be appropriate changing the definition to the one supported by Endler, rather than the one currently listed. Dwkikuchi (talk) 23:16, 19 September 2016 (UTC)

@Template:U:Dwkikuchi: I strongly believe that the lead of any article should simply summarize the article. Therefore, if changes are needed, they should be to the article's body, not the lead, and all the references should be in the body – no new facts, claims or arguments should be introduced in the lead. Therefore, the lead should not be cited unless something is so controversial that a ref has to be repeated there for clarity.
In addition, you have introduced a quantity of minor formatting errors - most noticeably, we place punctuation immediately before references, without spaces, like this: ".<ref name=Bloggs>...</ref> The ..." But all the refs should be moved out of the lead anyway. Another thing: the article is in "British English". Chiswick Chap (talk) 08:18, 21 September 2016 (UTC)

mimesis vs masquerade[edit]

The terms "mimesis" and "masquerade" are currently used inconsistently. Moreover, contemporary sources like Ruxton et al. 2004 and subsequent empirical work by Rowland, Skelhorn, and Stevens place the phenomenon under camouflage, rather than mimicry. Dwkikuchi (talk) 17:21, 19 September 2016 (UTC)

Automimicry[edit]

References for various forms of resemblance included under automimicry need to be elaborated. Eyespots are the subject of a rich contemporary literature.[1][2][3] and not typically considered mimetic, because the eyes they are hypothesiezed to resemble have not evolved to signal their presence to other animals. That they resemble eyespots themselves is also contradicted by some empirical evidence.[4]

Love the "hypothesiezed", taking the bull by the horns perhaps.
Clearly Dwkikuchi (talk) 18:01, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
Well I wonder. The eyespots do not have to resemble an actual animal (though fanciful comparisons have been made in older books): they need only startle, confuse, help to dissuade, or divert the attack of a potential predator to be effective. That they actually do some or all of these things is surely not in doubt: the fact that butterflies are frequently damaged on the hindwings shows that the eyespot areas are often attacked. The functions of eyespots (mainly the topic of another article) could include sexual selection and startle (deimatic): the role of the discussion in this article is to say how far they may be imitating something, for example by resembling generalized eyes sufficiently to signal "big animal" to a predator. That is clearly a different case from Batesian or Mullerian mimicry (a la mimicking wasp stripes), and it seems odd not to call that resemblance 'mimicry'.
I do not wish to weigh in on what eyespots are classifed as myself, but rather to represent in the Wiki what the majority of recent research (references here, also Ruxton et al., etc.) presents. To place this under automimicry would seem to use the same term for multiple phenomena. Would it not be possible to mention, in the Introduction or subheading for "Types of Mimicry" the similarity of eyespot mimicry to other sorts of protective resemblance, and refer readers to they "Eyespots" article for more in-depth discussion? Dwkikuchi (talk) 18:01, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
On the need to say more, I agree; as the Mimicry#Automimicry section is already of a good length, that will lead to an Automimicry article (the link redirected here, so I've started the article), which will (eventually) be summarized in this article (leading to the updating of the existing text so as to represent the message of the Automimicry article better). On the rich literature, we need to proceed carefully, using review papers if possible, rather than individual bits of primary research. Chiswick Chap (talk) 06:49, 20 September 2016 (UTC)

Use of the term "automimicry" in reference to parts of the body that resemble one another is obscure (Guthrie and Petocz 1970), and more closely related to multicomponent signals that are designed to increase signal efficacy [5](sensu Hebets and Papaj 2005), rather than mimicry in the sense of deception or mutualism.

Deception or mutualism: two different things. I'd not think that using a 1970 paper to argue that automimicry is "obscure" is especially convincing. On the contrary Lycaenid butterflies have "tails" resembling their heads, and rest with their heads down, tails up (helping to divert attack from head to tail, deceiving the predator, but certainly not mutualism) so there's a variety of different types of evidence for automimicry in the group; and much has been written on the subject since then. Chiswick Chap (talk) 06:49, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
I do not intend the date of the citation to mean that the reference is obscure, but rather that that lone citation seems to be the origin of that usage, and that its own authors point out in a footnote that their usage is not to be confused with mimicry in the context of predator-prey interactions. It is really a fascinating paper about how threatening structures in mammals (such as horns) are also repeated in facial markings on the fur. The authors hypothesize that this is to reinforce threat displays. This is an example of structures that have evolve to reinforce a signal being sent, but is a distinct evolutionary phenomenon from mimicry. It seems quite important to classify this correctly if it's part of the Evolutionary Biology project. I don't believe that this is the same thing as what your Lycaenid butterflies do, which could be mimicry, startle, or misdirection (Ruxton et al have a nice bit on this sort of resemblance in their penultimate or last chapter).Dwkikuchi (talk) 18:01, 20 September 2016 (UTC)

Automimicry has its most abundant usage when it refers to the phenomenon where not all members of an aposematic species are defended, so that some members of the population are parasitic on the others.[6] Dwkikuchi (talk) 23:42, 19 September 2016 (UTC)

Phrases like "has its most abundant usage" are definitely too technical (focused on the technical literature, not on the mimicry itself) for a Wikipedia article. We are aiming to create a clear, comprehensible overview of the topic for a general audience, supported by evidence and examples. Ruxton 2004 is an excellent book but very technical: where we use such things, we have to "unpack" them with suitable glosses, wikilinks, examples, and illustrations. I'd say we don't try to explain "most abundant usage" at all, we just make sure we mainly talk about the case Ruxton is referring to, and mention the other cases too in a more minor way. (i.e. we take Ruxton's statement as a direction to editors.)Chiswick Chap (talk) 06:49, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
I certainly wouldn't want to use this wording in the main article, but think the subsection should reflect that the vast majority of research on automimicry has be done in reference to this phenomenon. I will get out my copy of Ruxton and try to unpack its content as best I can. Dwkikuchi (talk) 18:01, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
Excellent.

Shouldn't mimicry of morphs within species be included under reproductive mimicry? The references cited for lizard polymorphism do not use the term "automimicry", except for the one by Svennungsen and Holen, which is about prey species with individuals that differ in their chemical defenses.Dwkikuchi (talk) 18:01, 20 September 2016 (UTC)

I think that rather than start any more discussion threads ;-) it might be best if you simply went WP:BOLDly ahead and edited Automimicry for a bit, using these and other references. I can have a go at copy-editing, writing the lead, and perhaps illustrating the article. Then we can think what to put back in Mimicry#Automimicry when the dust has settled a bit. I assume the current length is about right, but the balance will probably shift a bit. Chiswick Chap (talk) 18:43, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
    • ^ Stevens, M. (22 June 2007). "Predator perception and the interrelation between different forms of protective coloration". Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 274 (1617): 1457–1464. doi:10.1098/rspb.2007.0220. 
    • ^ Stevens, Martin; Stubbins, Claire L; Hardman, Chloe J (30 May 2008). "The anti-predator function of 'eyespots' on camouflaged and conspicuous prey". Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 62 (11): 1787–1793. doi:10.1007/s00265-008-0607-3. 
    • ^ Hossie, Thomas John; Sherratt, Thomas N. (August 2013). "Defensive posture and eyespots deter avian predators from attacking caterpillar models". Animal Behaviour. 86 (2): 383–389. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2013.05.029. 
    • ^ Stevens, Martin; Hopkins, Elinor; Hinde, William; Adcock, Amabel; Connolly, Yvonne; Troscianko, Tom; Cuthill, Innes C. (November 2007). "Field experiments on the effectiveness of 'eyespots' as predator deterrents". Animal Behaviour. 74 (5): 1215–1227. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2007.01.031. 
    • ^ Guilford, T.; Dawkins, M.S. "Receiver psychology and the evolution of animal signals". Animal Behavior. 42: 1-14. 
    • ^ Ruxton; et al. (2004). Avoiding Attack.