Document Type

Article

Volume

13

Issue

1

Publisher

PLOS ONE

Publication Date

1-3-2018

First Page

1

Last Page

15

DOI

10.1371/journal.pone.0189482

Abstract

Africa has the most tropical and subtropical land of any continent, yet has relatively low species richness in several taxa. This depauperate nature of the African tropical fauna and flora has led some to call Africa the “odd man out.” One exception to this pattern is velvet ants (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae), wingless wasps that are known for Müllerian mimicry. While North American velvet ants form one of the world’s largest mimicry complexes, mimicry in African species has not been investigated. Here we ask do African velvet ant Müllerian mimicry rings exist, and how do they compare to the North American complex. We then explore what factors might contribute to the differences in mimetic diversity between continents. To investigate this we compared the color patterns of 304 African velvet ant taxa using nonmetric multidimensional scaling (NMDS). We then investigated distributions of each distinct mimicry ring. Finally, we compared lizard diversity and ecoregion diversity on the two continents. We found that African female velvet ants form four Müllerian rings, which is half the number of North American rings. This lower mimetic diversity could be related to the relatively lower diversity of insectivorous lizard species or to the lower number of distinct ecoregions in Africa compared to North America.

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