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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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Shadowgraph images of potential gelatinous zooplankton models (top: salp; bottom: cestid ctenophore) and corresponding larval fish mimics (top: bothid larva; bottom: leptocephalus larva).

Greer AT, Woodson CB, Guigand CM, Cowen RK


Larval fishes utilize Batesian mimicry as a survival strategy in the plankton

Batesian mimicry, often thought to encompass some of the most compelling examples of natural selection, occurs when an otherwise palatable mimic receives protection from predators by resembling a distasteful or noxious model that is often relatively abundant. Using new evidence from in situ imaging and simulation modeling, Greer and colleagues explore the idea that certain behaviors and complex morphological features described for many different groups of larval fishes evolved at least in part through Batesian mimicry of less palatable gelatinous organisms. These findings have broad implications for our understanding of fish population dynamics and emphasize the need to describe the abundances of multiple taxonomic groups, their behavioral interactions, and how brief predator-prey encounters may scale up to affect populations.


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