2018 Presidential Award

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From the paper, Mimicry rings in the Western Ghats, India, showing spatial and temporal overlap between Batesian mimics and aposematic species and their mimicry phenotypes.

The recipients of the Presidential Award for 2018 are Jahnavi Joshi, Anupama Prakash, and Krushnamegh Kunte, for their paper, "Evolutionary Assembly of Communities in Butterfly Mimicry Rings" in the April 2017 issue. The Presidential Award is chosen by the President of the American Society of Naturalists from all of the papers published in The American Naturalist during the preceding calendar year.

In this paper, the authors explore the evolutionary history and assembly of mutualistic Mullerian co-mimicry rings and Batesian parasitic rings in butterflies. Mimicry rings often have both components.
The authors test hypotheses about the origin of these different mimicry complexes, whether close relatives are Mullerian or Batesian mimics, or whether mimicry complexes are formed from evolutionarily disparate groups that have converged on the same morph. They also explore the role of island biogeography in the size and assembly of mimicry complexes. They found that Mullerian mimicry rings were typically comprised of close relatives that diversified in clades with shared aposematic signal. In contrast, Batesian mimics generally converged onto patterns of the model, though some Batesian mimics were from sister groups of aposematic species, and some were from different genera and families. While not surprising, mainland rings were larger, had more species, than island rings. Interestingly, of the five rings represented in both mainlands and islands, the ratio of aposematic species to Batesian mimics in mimicry rings was similar across regions. Moreover, the smaller size of island rings appeared to be driven by a smaller number of aposematic mimic species. In sum, this paper provided an original synthesis of the evolutionary origins and assembly of butterlfy mimicry rings, showed that different evolutionary processes build Mullerian co-mimicry and Batesian parasitic mimicry, and placed these patterns in a biogeographic context.

Sharon Strauss
President, American Society of Naturalists