Saturday, February 11, 2012

Redder Ladybirds More Deadly, Say Scientists

ScienceDaily (Feb. 6, 2012) — A ladybug's colour indicates how well-fed and how toxic it is, according to an international team of scientists.

Research led by the Universities of Exeter and Liverpool directly shows that differences between animals' warning signals reveal how poisonous individuals are to predators.

Published in the journal Functional Ecology, the research shows that redder ladybugs are more poisonous than their paler peers. The study reveals that this variation is directly linked to diet in early life, with better-fed ladybugs being more visible and more deadly.
Ecologists have long assumed that there are no individual differences between the warning signals of animals of the same species. More recently, scientists have identified variation between individuals' warning signals, but have not known if these differences were meaningful and linked to levels of toxicity.

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