Abstracts (first author)
Warning signals and handicap theory
Aposematism has often been seen as a dynamical, transient phenomenon that can be destabilised by the appearance of undefended cheater prey (mimics). Recent theoretical work has made it clear that warning signals can also be evolutionarily stable and honest. Signalling theory predicts that an honest signalling system can contain a limited number of cheats without being destabilised as long as the system remains 'honest on average'. Somewhat analogous to this, a game theoretical analysis of three different mechanisms for honest warning signalling predicted an overall positive relationship between conspicuousness and defence across prey, given that signals were honest on average. Here we extend this analysis further and identify mechanisms for honest warning signalling that do not give rise to a positive relation between conspicuousness and defence. Some complicating factors include tradeoffs between warning signals and life-history traits, and non-monotonic relations between prey aversion and toxicity that may arise when predators can taste-reject prey.