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* Current address: Istituto di Genetica Biochimica ed Evoluzionistica, CNR Via Abbiategrasso 207, 27100 Pavia,
 

Summary: * Current address: Istituto di Genetica Biochimica ed
Evoluzionistica, CNR Via Abbiategrasso 207, 27100 Pavia,
Italy.
E-mail: archetti@igbe.pv.cnr.it
J. theor. Biol. (2000) 205, 625}630
doi:10.1006/jtbi.2000.2089, available online at http://www.idealibrary.com on
The Origin of Autumn Colours by Coevolution
MARCO ARCHETTI*
Dipartimento di Biologia Animale ed Ecologia, ;niversita% di Perugia, 06123 Perugia, Italy
(Received on 8 December 1999, Accepted in revised form on 2 May 2000)
We lack an adaptive explanation for a striking phenomenon, that of bright colours displayed
in autumn by the leaves of many deciduous trees. The usual explanation is that it is simply
a non-adaptive secondary e!ect of leaf senescence. A game-theoretic model of biological
signalling provides an adaptive hypothesis for autumn colours showing that they can be the
result of a process of coevolution between insects and trees: if leaf colour acts as a warning
indicator of the tree's vigour to autumn parasite insects, trees can gain advantage from the
reduction of parasite load and insects can gain advantage from location of the most pro"table
hosts to lay their eggs. The results of the model are consistent with Zahavi's handicap principle.
Possible explanations for the origin of the system and evidence from natural history are

  

Source: Archetti, Marco - Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University

 

Collections: Biology and Medicine