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Variable utility in the enigmatic presence of ultraviolet reflectance in conspicuous aposematic signals
  • Justin Yeager,
  • James Barnett
Justin Yeager
Universidad de Las Américas
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James Barnett
McMaster University
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Warning signals are often characterized by highly contrasting, distinctive and memorable colors. Both chromatic (hue) and achromatic (brightness) contrast contribute to signal efficacy, making longwave colored signals (red and yellow) that generate both chromatic and achromatic contrast common. Shortwave colors (blue and ultraviolet) do not contribute to luminance perception, yet are also common in warning signals. The presence of UV aposematic signals is paradoxical as UV perception is not universal, and evidence for its utility is at best mixed. We used visual modeling to quantify how UV affects signal contrast in aposematic butterflies and frogs. We found that UV only appreciably affected visual contrast in the butterflies. As the butterflies, but not the frogs, have UV-sensitive vision these results support the notion that UV reflectance is associated with intraspecific communication, but appears to be non-functional in frogs. Consequently, we should be careful when assigning a selection-based benefit from UV reflectance.

Peer review status:ACCEPTED

24 Jun 2021Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
26 Jun 2021Submission Checks Completed
26 Jun 2021Assigned to Editor
29 Jun 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
29 Jun 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
05 Jul 20211st Revision Received
06 Jul 2021Submission Checks Completed
06 Jul 2021Assigned to Editor
06 Jul 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
06 Jul 2021Editorial Decision: Accept