Do cuckoos choose nests of great reed warblers on the basis of host egg appearance?

Cherry, M. I., Bennett, A. T. D. and Moskat, C. 2007, Do cuckoos choose nests of great reed warblers on the basis of host egg appearance?, Journal of evolutionary biology, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 1218-1222.

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Title Do cuckoos choose nests of great reed warblers on the basis of host egg appearance?
Author(s) Cherry, M. I.
Bennett, A. T. D.
Moskat, C.
Journal name Journal of evolutionary biology
Volume number 20
Issue number 3
Start page 1218
End page 1222
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Place of publication Oxford, England
Publication date 2007-05
ISSN 1010-061X
1420-9101
Keyword(s) brood parasitism
spectrophotometry
mimicry
human assessment
Summary Prevailing theory assumes cuckoos lay at random among host nests within a population, although it has been suggested that cuckoos could choose large nests and relatively active pairs within host populations. We tested the hypothesis that egg matching could be improved by cuckoos choosing nests in which host eggs more closely match their own, by assessing matching and monitoring nest fate in great reed warblers naturally or experimentally parasitized by eggs of European cuckoos. A positive correlation between cuckoo and host egg visual features suggests that cuckoos do not lay at random within a population, but choose nests and this improves egg matching: naturally parasitized cuckoo eggs were more similar to host eggs as perceived by humans and as measured by spectrophotometry. Our results suggest a hitherto overlooked step in cuckoo-host evolutionary arms races, and have nontrivial implications for the common experimental practice of artificially parasitizing clutches.
Language eng
Field of Research 059999 Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30022763

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