Warning Coloration


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Warning Coloration

 

(also aposematic coloration), a type of protective coloration and form in which inedible animals have a vivid, usually variegated, coloration. Such animals are easily recognizable owing to contrasting color combinations (black, red, and white; orange, white, and black). Insects characterized by warning coloration include soldier beetles, lady bugs, chafers, leaf beetles, blister beetles, and butterflies (Zygaenidae, Arctiidae, Heliconidae). Warning coloration is also characteristic of some fishes, salamanders, fire-bellied toads, birds (dron-gos), and mammals (skunk).

The conspicuousness of animals with warning coloration is to their advantage, inasmuch as when they are recognized, they are not subject to attack from predators. Warning coloration promotes survival of a species in the struggle for existence and is a result of natural selection. (SeeMIMICRY.)

References in periodicals archive ?
It is difficult to construct a model of warning coloration in which this "specificity" is maintained.
Nevertheless, Zahavi (1991) still regards warning coloration as an example of the kind of "signal extravagance" for which his general theory of signal selection, the handicap principle, provides an explanation.
We believe that this "combined" model, which is built on the suggestions of previous authors but which incorporates the established role of learning in warning coloration, is sufficiently general to allow the empirical predictions of later sections to provide a general test of the handicap theory's ability to explain the key features of warning color systems.
We have already argued that if it is to provide a viable explanation of warning coloration even the handicap theory has to be combined with a learned component, but its primary emphasis is that prey are avoided because their signals are inherently costly.
We now consider how well each theory explains the major features of warning coloration.
Conspicuousness is perhaps the most striking feature of warning coloration, and we now consider how it may be explained by the three theories.
Under the handicap theory of warning coloration conspicuousness level alone indicates quality, so patterns do not have to be similar, except in conspicuousness, to have the same signal meaning.