A test of the coevolution theory of autumn colours: Colour preference of Rhopalosiphum padi on Prunus padus

Marco Archetti, Simon R. Leather

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

44 Scopus citations


According to the coevolution theory of autumn colours, the bright colours of trees evolved as a warning signal towards parasites colonizing the plant in autumn. We monitored colonization of the aphid Rhopalosiphum padi on individual tress of Prunus padus in autumn and observed a strong preference of aphids for trees with green leaves. This is the first direct observation of a key assumption of the theory, that parasites avoid bright colours. Moreover our observations, compared with previous data gathered on the same species, suggest that aphids colonizing trees with green leaves develop better in spring than aphids colonizing trees with bright autumn colours, which is consistent with the second main assumption of the coevolution theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)339-343
Number of pages5
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2005


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this