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Sexual mimicry

Sexual mimicry, or mimicking an individual of the opposite sex, is different from most other forms of mimicry because the individual is mimicking another individual of its own species as opposed to one of a different species. Sexual mimicry is also one of the hardest forms of mimicry to understand because it seems to have very small benefits compared to the costs of posing as a member of the opposite sex. In snakes, the most well studied system of sexual mimicry is female mimicry among male garter snakes, Thamnophis spp . Certain males will give off pheromones that are very similar to the ones produced by females (Shine, O’Connor,&Mason 2000a).

The costs to this form of mimicry are relatively high, however, because the female mimics will often be courted by other males. This would not seem to be such a big cost in most mammal or bird courtship systems, but in garter snakes, the males form a large, writhing mass around the female, where the stronger ones can get closest to the female and therefore have the best chance of mating with it. While serious injury is rare for the female (or female mimic) being courted, it is still somewhat physically hard on the individual. So what could the benefits of female mimicry in garter snakes be that can outweigh these costs? Shine and his colleagues found several things that seem to help explain this phenomenon. One is that female mimics tend to be smaller than many other males. Another is that a large number of female mimics were found covered with soil compared to non-mimics. Being covered in soil at time of observation means the individual more likely emerged from hibernation closer to that time than a clean male.

A garter snake.
Two-striped Garter snake, Thamnophis hammondii . Photo by rmceoin on Flickr.

These two general characteristics of female mimics show a likely reason for its benefit to the mimic. A small male is not very likely to reach the female in a mating ball. Also, males that emerge from hibernation late are also less likely to reach a female during courtship because so many other males will already be present in the courtship site. However, when a small, late emerging male mimics a female, it can move through the mating ball with relative ease, only having to fend off courting males who are much less likely to hurt a female they are courting than a competing male. By being able to reach the female, the female mimic greatly increases its chances to mate.

But reaching the female isn’t the only obstacle to overcome in a garter snake mating-ball. The male must also be able to get the female receptive enough to mate. However, it was recently shown that the female may have less choice than previously thought. Although female garter snakes tend to be larger than males, especially female mimicking ones, and female mimics are more likely to court a large female than a small one (Shine, O’Connor,&Mason 2000a), males do have a distinct way to forcibly copulate with females (Shine, Langkilde,&Mason 2003). By pressing against the side of a female during courtship, the male can contract its muscles in certain ways that presses against the female’s lungs and invokes a defensive response from the female due to a lack of oxygen (see [link] ). During this response, the female’s cloaca opens and excretes musk and excrement. This would very often get rid of a predator trying to attack the female, but the male uses the opportunity to forcibly inseminate the female with his sperm. Thus by mimicking a female and exploiting the anatomy of the species, a small male that emerges from hibernation relatively late can inseminate a female and pass on his genes to the next generation.

Questions & Answers

where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
ya I also want to know the raman spectra
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Mockingbird tales: readings in animal behavior. OpenStax CNX. Jan 12, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11211/1.5
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