Why they call them imitators. YOU DONT WANT TO MISS THIS. - Dendroboard
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Old 01-15-2007, 08:30 PM
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Default Why they call them imitators. YOU DONT WANT TO MISS THIS.

Some of my favorate pics from my trip were ones where I was able to get shots of imitators and the frog they were mimicing.

Heres the Fantasticus














Now here is the Imitator














Now for a change of colors

Ventrimaculatus vs. Imitator





Ventrimaculatus



Imitator
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Old 01-15-2007, 08:36 PM
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That's amazing.

Do you know whether they are exhibiting Batesian or Mullerian mimicry?

What are the relative toxicologies of the two species in the wild?
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Old 01-15-2007, 08:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 955i
That's amazing.

Do you know whether they are exhibiting Batesian or Mullerian mimicry?
hmm i dont know. what is the difference between batesian and Mellerian?




Quote:
Originally Posted by 955i
What are the relative toxicologies of the two species in the wild?
From what I understand imitators are less toxic then fants and vents. So that could give good reason to why they mimic other frogs who are more toxic.
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Old 01-15-2007, 08:49 PM
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I have heard, but can't remember where now, that some imitators are actually more toxic than the species that they imitate. That went against ppractical knowledge so it surprised me but can't remember where I saw that. Hopefully someone that remembers that also can chime in.

Beautiful frogs and the mimicry is incredible.
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Old 01-15-2007, 08:59 PM
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Absolutely stunning.... just... wow.
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Old 01-15-2007, 09:15 PM
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Taken from Wikipedia (as I couldn't remember the difference either :lol: )

Batesian mimics (named after Henry Walter Bates), where the mimic resembles the successful species but does not share the attribute that discourages predation.

Müllerian mimics (named after Fritz Müller), where the mimic resembles the successful species and shares the anti-predation attribute (dangerous or unpalatable.)


Those are some great shots. Is that the blue or orange or blue/orange imi? Can't wait to see those. Hopefully INIBICO will work its magic.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 01-15-2007, 09:18 PM
 
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Quote:
Do you know whether they are exhibiting Batesian or Mullerian mimicry?
I'm fairly certain that it is Mullerian mimicry.

~B
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Old 01-15-2007, 09:20 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbreland
I have heard, but can't remember where now, that some imitators are actually more toxic than the species that they imitate. That went against ppractical knowledge so it surprised me but can't remember where I saw that. Hopefully someone that remembers that also can chime in.

Beautiful frogs and the mimicry is incredible.



I have also heard of this I don't remember where I heard it either :?
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Old 01-15-2007, 09:23 PM
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The fantasticus-imitator is outstanding!
I never knew they imitated fants...

Nice pics too.
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Old 01-15-2007, 10:12 PM
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D. imitator was actually the first recorded Mullerian mimicry in vertebrates I do believe, which is why the species made such a fuss. These are no longer the only vertabrates showing mullerian mimicry, as it has even been found in other members of Dendrobatidae (A. zaparo and two sympatric Epipedobates species). It was well documented in a number of invertebrates before D. imitator, so finding a vertebrate doing it was a huge deal...
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Old 01-15-2007, 11:44 PM
 
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Wow, I am speechless. I have a hard time telling them apart. How does that happen? Do they grow up mimicing that species or do they gradually change to mimic it? I am so blown away by this. That's just amazing. If they grow up looking like a species, how could they tell that they weren't the same thing?? I am sorry if I sound really ignorant to this, but I didn't realize the mimicry was so strong. I am blown away! lol
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Old 01-16-2007, 12:13 AM
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I am pretty new to this hobby, but from what I understand, sometimes the only way to tell the difference is the calls. Imitators have completely different calls than the frogs they are imitating.
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Old 01-16-2007, 12:48 AM
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That was my next question. How do you tell them apart? Lifestyle, calls, reproduction, some physical characterisitic? I wasn't aware that they imitated fantasticus.
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Old 01-16-2007, 02:16 AM
 
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I just asked a friend of mineabout this tonight. He breeds imitators, intermedius and fantasticus along with plenty other thumbnails. Anyhow, he told me that the imitators can eventually, over generations of living next to a different species take on their characteristics. He said that generally imitators have a much louder call and sometimes that's the only way to tell them apart.
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Old 01-16-2007, 02:36 AM
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That fant-imitator has got to be one of the most sexiest frogs I have ever seen. I WANT SOME.
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Old 01-16-2007, 03:59 AM
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D. imitator has a lot of general characteristics that tell it apart from the frogs it mimics... so while the looks throw us off, they know very well who is who. D. imitators have a different call, have different colored tadpoles, and live in different niches in the same area... basically while the two species live in the same area, they occupy slightly different niches... like imitator living in stands of diffenbachia or xanthosoma where the other species prefers stands of bromeliads/tree holes/etc... that type deal... they prefer different breeding sites so they don't directly compete with each other.

The general theory behind the mimicry is that D. imitator are late comers into the areas they inhabit, and the species they mimic were already well established in the ecosystem... aposematic coloration relies a good part on instinctual responses of a lot of potential predators, animals that have evolved together and will avoid the animals with specific colors and patterns that are toxic. Animals with new colors and patterns, even if toxic, would be heavily preyed on for a long period until they either a) also lasted long enough that their color patterns eventually developed into instinctual aversion by much of the potential predators, or b) they just evolved quickly to look like the local species that are avoided. In highly variable species, Darwin's principles would quickly start weeding out the frogs that looked the least like the locales, and start a quick evolution towards looking as close to the locales as possible.

It's amazing how fast some of this can occur... thinking on hawaiian auratus which have been around what, 90 years? They've already showed differentiation of pattern and color from their ancestors... mind you some of this doesn't translate as well in captivity (such as color) because there are still strong selective pressure in the wild that we don't have in captivity (in the wild hawaiians are mostly the goldish color as breeding adults because the greens don't survive where the greens do survive in captive populations and thus have skewed captive population phenotype). Imitator have been under heavier pressure for a few thousand years longer, and look where its got them. Evolution is cool...
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Old 01-16-2007, 04:22 AM
 
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Wow, I appreciate you clearing this up for me Question for you then - if standard imitators are supposed to imitate D. variabilis, what is D imitator intermedius supposed to imitate? Just curious Thanks so much for answering these questions.
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Old 01-16-2007, 04:30 AM
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General break down of the "subspecies"...

D. imitator imitator generally mimics variabilis

D. imitator intermedius generally mimics fantasticus

D. imitator yurimaguensis generally mimics ventrimaculatus
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Old 01-16-2007, 04:34 AM
 
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Thanks for breaking that up for me I learn something new all the time!
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Old 01-16-2007, 02:10 PM
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This begs the question: Is the resemblance due to hybridization of the species or has the D. Imitator evolved to mimic the frogs that it shares territories with?

Hybridization:
Can D. Imitator cross breed with D. Ventrimaculatus and/or D. Fantasticus and produce viable offspring?
If so, what prevents the complete merger of these species into a single morph? Are there audible or visual stimulus that prevent or limit cross breeding?

Mimicry:
If D. Imitator has evolved to mimic the frogs that it shares territories with, what is the advantage of mimicking either of the other species?
Do the other species contain a more efficient toxin that prevents or limits predation?

Also, are the frogs genetically different?

Tim
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Old 01-16-2007, 02:22 PM
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Here is the main paper on the topic currently in print:

Symula, R., Schulte, R. and Summers, K. 2001. Molecular phylogenetic evidence for a mimetic radiation in Peruvian poison frogs supports a Müllerian mimicry hypothesis. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B 268: 2415-2421.

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Old 01-16-2007, 03:41 PM
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are all 3 of therse available in the U.S?

D. imitator imitator generally mimics variabilis

D. imitator intermedius generally mimics fantasticus

D. imitator yurimaguensis generally mimics ventrimaculatus

ccc
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Old 01-16-2007, 04:03 PM
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I believe they all are, although the yuris can be a bit more difficult to find from what I hear. The Imi's and Intermedius are relatively easy to find.
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Old 01-17-2007, 01:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TimsViv
Mimicry:
If D. Imitator has evolved to mimic the frogs that it shares territories with, what is the advantage of mimicking either of the other species?
Do the other species contain a more efficient toxin that prevents or limits predation?
I believe this is called Mullerian Mimicry. Since the imitators inhabit areas that were already populated by the other species, they simply mimic what the local predators already know not to eat. It would take much longer for the predators to "learn" not to eat a new frog, so instead they just evolve with similar coloration. Any frogs that look different will tend to be weeded out because the predators have not learned yet that they are poisonous. I'm no expert, but that's how i've heard it explained.
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Old 01-17-2007, 03:24 AM
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As RGB brought up, TimsViv - its given in the definition of mullerian mimicry. The advantage is that both species are avoided by predators.... population densities of each species aren't as critical as in nontoxic vs. toxic (in which the toxic have to be more common).... differences in toxins aren't that much of an issue as long as both are toxic (which limits predation).... they are both distasteful enough that they aren't a yummy snack... hopefully I covered more of the "why" in the original post I made about them... think of it as a type of convergent evolution. It was evolutionarily quicker to assume the pattern of an animal with a set aposematic response with predators (thousands of years vs. millions is the general idea).

I don't understand why every time this is brought up, people assume hybrids, as if its so crazy that a species can look so similar and not have had genetic influence by the species they are imitating. You are seriously underestimating nature and evolution.

Within the Thumbnail complex, D. imitator are members of the D. vanzolinii group, where the species they mimic are in the D. fantasticus/D. ventrimaculatus groups. The Fant/Vent groups are more closely related than the Van group is to either group. The only noted hybrids I know of have happened within their species group (notably hybrids within the fant group and hybrids within the vent group). I can find no evidence of successful crosses between imitators and the species they mimic, likely due to how unrelated they are, and characteristics associated with this. They occupy different niches in the wild so likely don't come across each other often, have different calls, and likely differences in behavior (not so obvious to us) that would keep a complete courtship ritual from occurring.
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Old 01-17-2007, 04:23 AM
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thats pretty cool :shock:
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Old 01-17-2007, 05:05 AM
 
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God's right hand, nature, sure is amazing! I am totally blown away by all this information. Not that I could ever doubt it's possible, but it always amazes me!
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Old 01-17-2007, 09:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RGB
I believe this is called Mullerian Mimicry. Since the imitators inhabit areas that were already populated by the other species, they simply mimic what the local predators already know not to eat. It would take much longer for the predators to "learn" not to eat a new frog, so instead they just evolve with similar coloration. Any frogs that look different will tend to be weeded out because the predators have not learned yet that they are poisonous. I'm no expert, but that's how i've heard it explained.
Quote:
Originally Posted by KeroKero
As RGB brought up, TimsViv - its given in the definition of mullerian mimicry. The advantage is that both species are avoided by predators.... population densities of each species aren't as critical as in nontoxic vs. toxic (in which the toxic have to be more common).... differences in toxins aren't that much of an issue as long as both are toxic (which limits predation).... they are both distasteful enough that they aren't a yummy snack... hopefully I covered more of the "why" in the original post I made about them... think of it as a type of convergent evolution. It was evolutionarily quicker to assume the pattern of an animal with a set aposematic response with predators (thousands of years vs. millions is the general idea).

I don't understand why every time this is brought up, people assume hybrids, as if its so crazy that a species can look so similar and not have had genetic influence by the species they are imitating. You are seriously underestimating nature and evolution.

Within the Thumbnail complex, D. imitator are members of the D. vanzolinii group, where the species they mimic are in the D. fantasticus/D. ventrimaculatus groups. The Fant/Vent groups are more closely related than the Van group is to either group. The only noted hybrids I know of have happened within their species group (notably hybrids within the fant group and hybrids within the vent group). I can find no evidence of successful crosses between imitators and the species they mimic, likely due to how unrelated they are, and characteristics associated with this. They occupy different niches in the wild so likely don't come across each other often, have different calls, and likely differences in behavior (not so obvious to us) that would keep a complete courtship ritual from occurring.
Ron / Corey,

Thanks for your responses, I do understand Mullerian Mimicry and it's advantages. My question is more toward the genetic makeup of the two groups of D. Imitator.

If D. Imitator could breed with D. fantasticus/D. ventrimaculatus and produce viable offspring, it would greatly speed up it's abilities to mimic the host species, thus providing a far more efficient route.

It would be interesting to see if the genetic make-up of D. Imitator (fant mimic) vs. D. Imitator (vent mimic). Have these two groups morphed into their own sub-species or do they still carry the identical genetic make-up?

Not meant to be an argument, just food for thought.

Tim
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Old 01-17-2007, 10:12 PM
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You can see some basic relations on the cladogram figure on the evolution page of Dendrobates.org, and in a little more detail on the fantasticus-ventrimaculatus troup tree. Basic idea to take away from this? While in the hobby we generally refer to "thumbnails" as one species group with similar characteristics (small size, non-obligate egg feeders) this group is, in fact, made up of at least two species groups... of which imitator belongs to one, and the species it mimics belongs to another. While hybrids within species groups rarely occur in the wild, they can happen in captivity (leuc/tinc, fant/retic, etc.) under forced conditions (male of one species, female of another, no other options) or with egg piracy (hey these look like eggs of my species, I'll give them a go! - said the male look after finding a fresh clutch of azureus eggs in a community tank... whoops!). I've yet to find a record of species hybridizing that are from different species groups... which imis and what they imitate effectively are. I know banded intermedius and yellow fants have been kept together in the past (mistakenly thought to be the same thing initially) with no breeding.

If they COULD breed, and did when they initially spread into the new area, hybridizing would have them just absorbed into the species already present, they would not have become separate species. The fact that they basically can't breed is what caused the situation where the mullerian mimicry to occur... if you study mullerian mimicry cases in butterflies (where it is probably best studied) you'll note that the species involved are not particularly closely related, so cases of mullerian mimicry seem to revolve around the fact that the species involved would never hybridize, but occur in the same areas and both benefit from looking similar.

From what I understand of D. imitator genetics, the subspecies (while handy in grouping what frogs mimic what frogs) are basically bunk genetically. They have little to no genetic differences, and about the only difference between them is phenotypically... and in a highly variable species this means just about nothing.
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Old 01-18-2007, 08:15 PM
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Whoa those frogs were beautiful, where does one buy them???

And am I the only one who took the Imitator thing seriously? I never knew that Imitators were poisonous in the wild, I figured that they just imitated other frogs? That is some interesting stuff!
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Old 01-18-2007, 10:43 PM
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One waits until INIBICO and/or Understory Enterprises legally releases them into the hobby. Some of the above are available in EU, but if you check the "black list" thread... they shouldn't be there

You should take the imitator thing seriously, they ARE imitating, and they ARE imitating other frogs.... just not the way you thought. Mullerian mimicry isn't usually taught in basic sciences, and I didn't learn about it until some college biology classes, so unless you've taken some advanced courses, its likely that you didn't even know this type of mimicry occurred (much less in vertebrates) so you just assumed batesian mimicry was at work... they are still living up to their name literally, just assumed they were doing the wrong type of mimicry (non-toxic imitating toxic).
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Old 01-19-2007, 12:06 AM
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Great informative thread! I cant get enough!
Nicely done!!!! :wink:
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Old 01-19-2007, 12:08 AM
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So does anyone know how much toxin an imitator would possess in the wild?
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