The ground beetle genus Ceroglossus contains co-distributed species that show pronounced intraspecific diversity in the form of geographical colour morphs. While colour morphs among different species appear to match in some geographical regions, in others, there is little apparent colour matching. Mimicry is a potential explanation for covariation in colour patterns, but it is not clear whether the degree of sympatric colour matching is higher than expected by chance given the obvious mismatches among morphs in some regions. Here, we used reflectance spectrometry to quantify elytral coloration from the perspective of an avian predator to test whether colour similarity between species is, indeed, higher in sympatry. After finding no significant phylogenetic signal in the colour data, analyses showed strong statistical support for sympatric colour similarity between species despite the apparent lack of colour matching in some areas. We hypothesize Müllerian mimicry as the responsible mechanism for sympatric colour similarity in Ceroglossus and discuss potential explanations and future directions to elucidate why mimicry has not developed similar levels of interspecific colour resemblance across space.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3470028.
- Received May 21, 2016.
- Accepted September 3, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.