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Does the abundance of hoverfly mimics (Syrphidae) depend on the numbers of their hymenopteran models ?

Howarth, Brigitte; Edmunds, Malcolm; Gilbert, Francis


Brigitte Howarth

Malcolm Edmunds


We tested the prediction that, if hoverflies are Batesian mimics, this may extend to behavioral mimicry such that their numerical abundance at each hour of the day (the daily activity pattern) is related to the numbers of their hymenopteran models. After accounting for site, season, microclimatic responses and for general hoverfly abundance at three sites in north-west England, the residual numbers of mimics were significantly correlated positively with their models 9 times out of 17, while 16 out of 17 relationships were positive, itself a highly significant non-random pattern. Several eristaline flies showed significant relationships with honeybees even though some of them mimic wasps or bumblebees, perhaps reflecting an ancestral resemblance to honeybees. There was no evidence that good and poor mimics differed in their daily activity pattern relationships with models. However, the common mimics showed significant activity pattern relationships with their models, but the rarer mimics did not. We conclude that many hoverflies show behavioral mimicry of their hymenopteran models.


Howarth, B., Edmunds, M., & Gilbert, F. (2004). Does the abundance of hoverfly mimics (Syrphidae) depend on the numbers of their hymenopteran models ?. Evolution, 58(2), 367-375.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 8, 2003
Online Publication Date May 9, 2007
Publication Date 2004-02
Deposit Date Jan 26, 2004
Publicly Available Date Oct 9, 2007
Journal Evolution
Print ISSN 0014-3820
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 58
Issue 2
Pages 367-375
Keywords mimicry, hoverflies, Hymenoptera, Syrphidae, GLM analysis
Public URL
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