Alison Davis Rabosky, Michigan
Mimicry, in which two unrelated species converge upon a novel phenotype for the purpose of signaling to predators, is a classic system for understanding the mechanisms that drive transitions to strikingly new and distinct character states. My research on trait evolution has leveraged the phenomenon of Batesian mimicry of highly venomous coral snakes (family Elapidae) across the New World to test hypotheses about “evolutionary trajectories” in nature. I combine large-scale digitization of museum records, phylogenetic comparative approaches, modeling, and behavioral experiments to create comprehensive tests of how mimicry evolves across both space and time. These tests challenge traditional ideas about the ecological origins and evolutionary stability of mimicry systems and identify exciting new targets for future research into the drivers of phenotypic convergence across systems.
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