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Natural selection for rare and mimetic colour pattern combinations in wild populations of the diadem butterfly, Hypolimnas misippus L

Biological journal of the Linnean Society 1987 v.31 no.1 pp. 1-23
Danaus, Hypolimnas, butterflies, color, models, morphs, natural selection, phenotype, predation, predators, Ghana, Tanzania
Mark recapture and morph frequency data, gathered during a population irruption of Hypolimnas misippus in southern Ghana, provide evidence for apostatic and mimetic selection. During a period of low adult survival, both the recapture rate and the frequency of the commonest morph (misippus) were significantly reduced. Selection against this form increased phenotypic diversity and generated significant disequilibrium in the combinations of unlinked fore- and hindwing phenotypes. There was also evidence for selection against those forms (weak alcippoides) which most closely resemble misippus. Other morphs, including both good mimics of Danaus chrysippus and rare non-mimics, showed no reductions in recapture rate during the period of low survival, but only the good mimics increased significantly in frequency. The results provide a predictive ecological model for density-dependent selection by predators which is consistent with field data from previous studies of H. misippus in Ghana and Tanzania. Their evolutionary implications are discussed, and it is suggested that anomalies in the mimicry of this species may be partly due to lack of predation when it is scarce.