The main difference between Batesian and Mullerian mimicry is that Batesian mimicry is the exhibition of the characteristics of a dangerous species by a harmless species to avoid predators whereas Mullerian mimicry is the exhibition of similar characteristics by similar species to avoid predators.
Mimicry is a biological phenomenon in which animals resemble another organism for protecting from their predators. Batesian mimicry, Mullarian mimicry, and Mertensian mimicry are three forms of defensive mimicry.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Batesian Mimicry
– Definition, Importance, Frequency
2. What is Mullerian Mimicry
– Definition, Facts, Importance
3. What are the Similarities Between Batesian and Mullerian Mimicry
– Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Batesian and Mullerian Mimicry
– Comparison of Key Differences
Key Terms: Batesian Mimicry, Mimic, Model, Müllerian Mimicry, Predator
What is Batesian Mimicry
Batesian mimicry is a form of mimicry where a harmless animal mimics a warning system such as conspicuous coloration of a dangerous animal in order to avoid predators. Here, the harmless animal is known as the mimic while the dangerous animal it mimics is known as the model. The mimics gain protection because predators mistake them for dangerous animals (model). Henry Walter Bates was the first scientist to discover this form of mimicry. He discovered this after his work on butterflies in Brazil. Batesian mimicry among different species of butterflies is shown in figure 1.
In Batesian mimicry, the model animal should be more abundant than the mimic. If the frequency of the mimic is high, the predator has a greater chance to attack the mimic.
What is Mullerian Mimicry
Müllerian mimicry is a form of mimicry where two unrelated dangerous animals develop similar appearances as a shared protective device. They may exhibit same patterns of bright colors. They may be noxious or dangerous to the predators. Müllerian mimicry in two species of butterflies is shown in figure 2.
Since the animals who exhibit Müllerian mimicry are dangerous, predators benefit by this type of mimicry in their prey.
Similarities Between Batesian and Mullerian Mimicry
- Batesian and Müllerian mimicry are two biological phenomena in which animals resemble another organism to avoid predators.
- Both types of mimicry occur in two unrelated animals.
Difference Between Batesian and Mullerian Mimicry
Batesian Mimicry: A form of mimicry where a harmless animal mimics a dangerous animal in order to avoid predators
Müllerian Mimicry: A form of mimicry where two unrelated dangerous animals develop similar appearances as a shared protective device
Batesian Mimicry: Exhibited by harmless animals
Müllerian Mimicry: Exhibited by harmful animals
Batesian Mimicry: The mimic benefits
Müllerian Mimicry: Both mimic and predator benefit
Abundance of the Mimic
Batesian Mimicry: Model should be abundant than the mimic
Müllerian Mimicry: Both predator and mimic may be equally abundant
Type of Relationship
Batesian Mimicry: A type of parasitic relationship
Müllerian Mimicry: A type of mutualistic relationship
Batesian Mimicry: The harmless Therea beetle mimics the noxious Tortoise beetle
Müllerian Mimicry: The red postman butterfly and the common postman butterfly exhibit almost similar placement of dots on their wings
Batesian mimicry is the exhibition of unpalatable and harmful characteristics by harmless animals while Müllerian mimicry is the exhibition of similar characteristics by two dangerous animals. Therefore, both Batesian and Müllerian mimicry aid in avoiding predators. The main difference between Batesian and Mullerian mimicry is the palatability and harmfulness of the animals who exhibit each type of mimicry.
1. “Batesian Mimicry.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 13 Oct. 2011, Available here.
2. Hadley, Debbie. “Have You Seen Müllerian Mimicry in Your Backyard?” ThoughtCo, Available here.
1. “Batesian mimicry (32187014225)” By yakovlev.alexey from Moscow, Russia – Batesian mimicry (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Mullerian mimicry in butterflies” By made using free pictures by James S. Miller, (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia