Repeated evolution in overlapping mimicry rings among North American velvet ants.

  title={Repeated evolution in overlapping mimicry rings among North American velvet ants.},
  author={Joseph S. Wilson and Kevin Andrew Williams and Matthew L. Forister and Carol D von Dohlen and James P. Pitts},
  journal={Nature communications},
Müllerian mimicry, in which two or more harmful species share a similar appearance for mutual benefit, is a widely appreciated, yet relatively uncommon natural phenomenon. Although Müllerian mimicry occurs in vertebrates, most studies are focused on tropical, herbivorous invertebrates. Here we identify a large Müllerian mimicry complex in North American velvet ants (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae). These are conspicuous, diurnal parasitoids of bees and wasps that defend themselves with a powerful… 

Comparison of African and North American velvet ant mimicry complexes: Another example of Africa as the ‘odd man out’

This work compared the color patterns of 304 African velvet ant taxa using nonmetric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) and found that African female velvet ants form four Müllerian rings, which is half the number of North American rings.

Gene Flow in the Müllerian Mimicry Ring of a Poisonous Papuan Songbird Clade (Pitohui; Aves)

Interspecies gene flow may be a more general mechanism in generating mimicry rings than hitherto appreciated and may have been instrumental in the sharing of plumage patterns and toxicity in the poisonous Papuan pitohuis.

Biased predation could promote convergence yet maintain diversity within Müllerian mimicry rings of Oreina leaf beetles

It is found that frequencies of each colour morph were positively correlated among species, a critical prediction of Müllerian mimicry, and testable hypotheses for why asymmetric generalization occurs, and how predators maintain the predominance of blue morphs in a community, despite asymmetrical generalization are proposed.

Are diurnal iguanian lizards the evolutionary drivers of New World female velvet ant (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae) Müllerian mimicry rings?

The potential predator communities that may have driven the evolution of the large North American velvet ant mimicry complex are explored and it is found that iguanians are likely predators of two of the described mutillid mimicry rings.

How the Easter Egg Weevils Got Their Spots: Phylogenomics reveals Müllerian Mimicry in Pachyrhynchus (Coleoptera, Curculionidae)

This work analyzes more than 10,000 UCE loci using a novel partitioning strategy to resolve the relationships of closely related species in the Pachyrhynchus genus and indicates that many of the mimetic color patterns observed in sympatric species are due to convergent evolution.

Phylogeny and evolution of Müllerian mimicry in aposematic Dilophotes: evidence for advergence and size-constraints in evolution of mimetic sexual dimorphism

This is the first described case of Müllerian sexual dimorphism based on sex-specific body size and it is proposed that the constraint, i.e. the conservative sexual sizeDimorphism, forced the unprofitable prey to such complex adaptation in a multi-pattern environment.

Müllerian mimicry in bumble bees is a transient continuum

It is proposed that bumble bees are mimicking a perceptual colour pattern average that is evolutionarily transient, supporting the idea that mimicry is not discrete and exploring factors driving these differences such as mimicry selection dynamics and climate.

Diversity in Müllerian mimicry: The optimal predator sampling strategy explains both local and regional polymorphism in prey

The dynamical consequences of the optimal strategy for sampling unfamiliar prey, based on a classical exploration–exploitation trade‐off, not only allows for a variable number of prey sampled, but also accounts for predator neophobia under some conditions.

Conspicuousness, phylogenetic structure, and origins of Müllerian mimicry in 4000 lycid beetles from all zoogeographic regions

It is shown that the highly conspicuous patterns evolve within communities predominantly formed by less conspicuous Müllerian mimics and, and often only a single species displays a novel pattern.



A Müllerian mimicry ring in Appalachian millipedes

  • P. MarekJ. Bond
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • 2009
A remarkable example of color mimicry in 7 species of blind, cyanide-generating millipedes endemic to the Appalachian Mountains of temperate North America is shown and a Müllerian symbiosis where unrelated species vary in color and pattern over geographical space but appear identical where they co-occur is documented.


  • A. Brower
  • Biology
    Evolution; international journal of organic evolution
  • 1996
Diverse races in either species appear to have evolved within the last 200,000 yr, and convergent phenotypes have evolved independently within as well as between species.

Why are there so many mimicry rings? Correlations between habitat, behaviour and mimicry in Heliconius butterflies

It is suggested that species from the melpomene -group of Heliconius have radiated to occupy mimetic niches protected by model species in the Ithomiinae and the erato -groups ofHeliconius, suggesting the maintenance of mimetic diversity would be aided by the habitat and behavioural differences revealed here.

Phylogenetic evidence for colour pattern convergence in toxic pitohuis: Müllerian mimicry in birds?

  • J. DumbacherR. Fleischer
  • Biology, Environmental Science
    Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences
  • 2001
It is shown that the ‘mimetic’ phenotype is ancestral to both species and that the resemblance in most races is better explained by a shared ancestry, consistent with the hypothesis that Müllerian mimicry is driving the evolution for a similar colour pattern between P. dichrous and P. kirhocephalus.

Butterfly genome reveals promiscuous exchange of mimicry adaptations among species

It is inferred that closely related Heliconius species exchange protective colour-pattern genes promiscuously, implying that hybridization has an important role in adaptive radiation.

Phylogeographic analysis of the nocturnal velvet ant genus Dilophotopsis (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae) provides insights into diversification in the Nearctic deserts

Analysis of phylogeographic patterns in a widespread nocturnal wasp genus Dilophotopsis shows that similar patterns of diversification exist in vertebrate and invertebrate taxa.

The viceroy butterfly is not a batesian mimic

This classic case of mimicry involving viceroy butterflies, Limenitis archippus (Cramer) (Nymphalidae), and two species they purportedly mimic is reassessed and it is revealed that viceroys are as unpalatable as monarchs, and significantly more unpalable than queens from representative Florida populations.

Wing patterning gene redefines the mimetic history of Heliconius butterflies

A long-standing debate about the origins of the races within each species is resolved, supporting the hypothesis that the red-rayed Amazonian pattern evolved recently and expanded, causing disjunctions of more ancestral patterns.

Locomotor Mimicry in Butterflies? A Critical Review of the Evidence

An alternative hypothesis emphasizing phylogenetic constraint in the evolution of morphological characters associated with predator avoidance is proposed, and correlations of phenotypic characters used to support alternative adaptive peaks for palatable and unpalatable butterflies are criticized for failing to account for phylogenetic relationships.

Evolutionary history of the burnet moth genus Zygaena Fabricius, 1775 (Lepidoptera: Zygaenidae) inferred from nuclear and mitochondrial sequence data: phylogeny, host–plant association, wing pattern evolution and historical biogeography

The phylogenetic results challenge the classic assumption that early species diversification in Zygaena took place in the Irano–Turkestanian region and imply a subsequent colonization of the Middle East and Central Asia.