Decoupling vigour and quality in the autumn colours game: Weak individuals can signal, cheating can pay

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Abstract

According to the coevolution theory, autumn colours are a warning signal to insects, signalling the level of chemical defences or availability of nutrients. Because in the original model tree vigour and defences were positively correlated, it is not clear whether signalling would still be stable when they are decoupled, and the fact that weak trees often display bright autumn colours is usually presented as evidence against the coevolution theory. I show that in a theoretical model of insect-tree coevolution, signalling is still stable when vigour and defences are decoupled. Weak trees can signal. Moreover, partial cheating is possible. The different equilibria depend on the importance of vigour and defences against insect attack, of vigour in the production of the signal, and of pleiotropic effects between colour and defences. These results provide precise predictions that can be used for planning future empirical test.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)479-484
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Volume256
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 7 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Applied Mathematics

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