Mimicry is an intuitive example of adaptive evolution by natural selection: one species (the mimic) evolves to resemble another species (the model) to reduce predation risk, to increase the success in capturing prey, or to gain access to other resources, such as mating opportunities. Whilst mimics are ubiquitous in nature, there are very few examples of mimics that can actively change their body colouration to switch their mimic colours ‘on’ and ‘off’, or to resemble multiple model species. However, we have investigated two intriguing examples of colour change in coral reef fish mimicry systems. We are also interested in mimicry in nudibranch molluscs.


Selected Publications

Winters, A. E., Wilson, N. G., van den Berg, C., How, M.J., Garson, M. J., Endler. J. A., N. Justin Marshall, N. J., & Cheney, K. L.Toxicity and taste: unequal chemical defences in a mimicry ring (accepted 11 May 2018, Proceedings of Royal Society, Lond B, Biological Sciences).

Cortesi, C., Feeney, W. E, Ferrari, M.C.O., Waldie, P.A., Phillips, G.A.C, McClure, E.C., Sköld, H. N, Salzburger, W., Marshall, N.J., Cheney, K. L. (2015) Phenotypic plasticity confers multiple fitness benefits to a mimic. Current Biology25 (7): 949-954

Cheney, K. L., Grutter, A.S. and Bshary, R.,(2014) Geographical variation in the benefits obtained by a coral reef fish mimic. Animal Behaviour, 88: 85-90.

Cheney, K. L.(2012). Cleaner wrasse mimics inflict higher costs on their models when they are more aggressive towards signal receivers. Biology Letters, 8: 10-12.

Cheney, K. L.(2010). Multiple selective pressures apply to a coral reef fish mimic: a case of Batesian-aggressive mimicry. Proceedings of Royal Society of London Series B-Biological Sciences 277:1849-1855 (cover image by Karen Cheney).