Date of Award
Aposematic coloration, commonly observed in noxious organisms, serves as a warning to predators to avoid attacking specific prey. This coloration is conspicuous in nature, with one of the most common examples being a red and black pattern. The plant Abrus precatorius exhibits this warning signal in its seeds, which resemble lady beetles and contain the concentrated toxin abrin. Aphelocoma coerulescens, an endemic and federally threatened bird in the state of Florida, shares a similar distribution with Abrus precatorius, making interaction between the two species possible. Using an edible model of the Abrus seed, this potential interaction was tested in Martin and Palm Beach County populations of Aphelocoma coerulescens by presenting a red and white seed to individual scrub jays to determine whether they showed a preference for or avoidance of the red model seed. Results showed a significant tendency by the birds to prefer white over red, indicating that the color, independent of other warning signals, functions aposematically to discourage predation of Abrus precatorius seeds.
Hill, Mary Elizabeth, "The Effect of Aposematic Coloration on the Food Preference of Aphelocoma coerulescens, the Florida Scrub Jay" (2003). Theses and Dissertations. 120.