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Aposematic signalling in prey-predator systems:determining evolutionarily stability when prey populations consist of a single species

Scaramangas, A. & Broom, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-1698-5495 (2022). Aposematic signalling in prey-predator systems:determining evolutionarily stability when prey populations consist of a single species. Journal of Mathematical Biology,


Aposematism is the signalling of a defence for the deterrence of predators. We presently focus on aposematic organisms that exhibit chemical defences, which are usually signalled by some type of brightly coloured skin pigmentation (as is the case with poison frog species of the Dendrobatidae family), although our treatment is likely transferable to other forms of secondary defence. This setup is not only a natural one to consider but also opens up the possibility for rich mathematical modelling: the strength of aposematic traits (signalling and defence) can be unambiguously realised using variables that are continuously quantifiable, independent from one another and which together define a two-dimensional strategy space wherein the aposematic behaviour of any one organism can be represented by a single point. We presently develop an extensive mathematical model in which we explore the joint co-evolution of aposematic traits within the context of evolutionary stability. Even though empirical and model-based studies are conflicting regarding how aposematic traits are related to one another in nature, the majority of works allude to a positive correlation. We presently suggest that both positively and negatively correlated combinations of traits can achieve evolutionarily stable outcomes and further, that for a given level of signal strength there can be more than one optimal level of defence. Our findings are novel and pertinent to a sizeable body of physical evidence, which we discuss.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This version of the article has been accepted for publication, after peer review (when applicable) and is subject to Springer Nature’s AM terms of use, but is not the Version of Record and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections. The Version of Record will be available online at:
Publisher Keywords: evolutionary game theory; local ESS; continuous traits; chemical defences
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics
Q Science > QH Natural history
Q Science > QL Zoology
Departments: School of Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering > Mathematics
[img] Text - Accepted Version
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