Host intra-clutch variation, cuckoo egg matching and egg rejection by great reed warblers

Cherry, Michael I., Bennett, Andrew T. D. and Moskat, Csada 2007, Host intra-clutch variation, cuckoo egg matching and egg rejection by great reed warblers, Naturwissenschaften, vol. 94, no. 6, pp. 441-447.


Title Host intra-clutch variation, cuckoo egg matching and egg rejection by great reed warblers
Author(s) Cherry, Michael I.
Bennett, Andrew T. D.
Moskat, Csada
Journal name Naturwissenschaften
Volume number 94
Issue number 6
Start page 441
End page 447
Publisher Springer
Place of publication Berlin, Germany
Publication date 2007-06
ISSN 0028-1042
1432-1904
Keyword(s) cuculus canorus
egg discrimination
intra-clutch variation
mimicry
human assessment
spectrophotometry
brood parasitism
acrocephalus arundinaceus
Summary Prevailing theory predicts that lower levels of intra-clutch variation in host eggs facilitate the detection of brood parasitism. We assessed egg matching using both human vision and UV-VIS spectrophotometry and then followed the nest fate of great reed warblers naturally parasitised by European cuckoos. Rejection was predicted by the following three variables: matching between cuckoo and host eggs on the main chromatic variable defined by principal components analysis of the egg spectra (which has a strong loading in the UV); the number of host eggs in the nest; and human estimates of intra-clutch variation. The first variable is not correlated to human estimates of matching, which do not predict rejection. In line with another recent study, rejection rates were predicted by higher levels of intra-clutch variation in the host eggs, suggesting that higher rather than lower levels of intra-clutch variation can facilitate the discrimination of cuckoo eggs by hosts. We suggest that the importance of intra-clutch variation is context dependent, with intra-clutch variation being important when there is good matching between the host and the cuckoo eggs. Our results also suggest that both spectrometric and human visual assessments of egg matching and intra-clutch variation are prudent: the former provide the best method of estimating reflectance variation, whereas the latter include some assessment of patterns of maculation.
Language eng
Field of Research 059999 Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2007, Springer-Verlag
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30022762

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