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      False head complexity and evidence of predator attacks in male and female hairstreak butterflies (Lepidoptera: Theclinae: Eumaeini) from Mexico

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          Abstract

          In many butterfly species, the posterior end of the hindwings of individuals perching with their wings closed resembles a butterfly head. This “false head” pattern is considered an adaptation to deflect predator attacks to less vulnerable parts of the body. The presence of symmetrical damage in left and right wings is considered evidence of failed predator attacks to perching butterflies. In this research, we tested the prediction derived from the deflection hypothesis that the degree of resemblance of the false head area (FH) to a real head, as measured by the number of FH “components” (eyespots, “false antennae”, modified outline of the FH area and lines converging on the FH area) present in the hindwings, is positively correlated to the frequency of symmetrical damage in the FH area. We studied specimens from two scientific collections of butterflies of the subfamily Theclinae (Lycaenidae) belonging to the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (Colección Nacional de Insectos [CNIN] and Museo de Zoología, Facultad de Ciencias [MZFC]). We scored the presence of symmetrical damage in a sample of 20,709 specimens (CNIN: 3,722; MZFC: 16,987) from 126 species (CNIN: 78 species; MZFC: 117 species; 71 species shared by both collections) whose hindwings vary in the number of FH components, and found that, as predicted, the proportion of specimens with symmetrical damage increases as the number of FH components increases. We also tested the hypothesis that behavioural differences between the sexes makes males more prone to receive predator attacks and, thus, we predicted a higher frequency of symmetrical damage in the FH of males than in that of females. We found that the frequency of symmetrical damage was not significantly different between males and females, suggesting that behavioural differences between the sexes produce no differences in the risk of being attacked. Overall, our results provide support to the idea that the FH of butterflies is an adaptation that deflects predator attacks to less vulnerable parts of the body in both sexes.

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          Most cited references 24

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          Tempo and mode in evolution: phylogenetic inertia, adaptation and comparative methods

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            The "False Head" Hypothesis: Predation and Wing Pattern Variation of Lycaenid Butterflies

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              Territoriality by hilltopping males of the great purple hairstreak, Atlides halesus (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae): convergent evolution with a pompilid wasp

               John Alcock (1983)
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                PeerJ
                PeerJ
                peerj
                peerj
                PeerJ
                PeerJ Inc. (San Diego, USA )
                2167-8359
                25 June 2019
                2019
                : 7
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México , Ciudad de México, Mexico
                [2 ]Museo de Zoología “Alfonso L Herrera”, Departamento de Biología Evolutiva, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México , Ciudad de México, Mexico
                [3 ]Departamento de Ecología Evolutiva, Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México , Ciudad de México, México
                Article
                7143
                10.7717/peerj.7143
                6598652
                ©2019 Novelo Galicia et al.

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed. For attribution, the original author(s), title, publication source (PeerJ) and either DOI or URL of the article must be cited.

                Funding
                Funded by: PAPIIT/UNAM (México)
                Award ID: IN210715
                Funded by: PAPIIT/UNAM
                This work was supported by PAPIIT/UNAM (México) under grant IN210715 to Carlos Cordero. Eric Novelo was supported by a scholarship from PAPIIT/UNAM. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Categories
                Animal Behavior
                Ecology
                Entomology
                Evolutionary Studies
                Zoology

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