Behaviour and Ecology
Rohanna Dow (PhD 2012)
passed her viva in late 2011 with flying colours. Papers describing her
research are pending. This is how she described her research interests:
My research centres predominantly on Batesian mimicry. First described by Henry Walter Bates in 1862; it refers to the phenomenon whereby seemingly palatable prey appear to “mimic” the colourful, conspicuous warning patterns, and occasionally the behaviour, of noxious prey in order to gain protection from potential predators.
Although the phenomenon has been well documented, and regarded as a classic example of evolution via natural selection, there is still controversy surrounding the initial origin and subsequent maintenance of Batesian mimicry, especially in the case of the previously neglected occurrence of mimics that, to all intent and purpose, appear particularly inaccurate.
Currently I am concentrating on the development of a computer programme
in order to simulate mimicry complexes. Using human volunteers as the predators,
I hope to simulate potential selection pressures that could have led to the
seemingly paradoxical presence in the wild of “imperfect” mimics.