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An Experimental Study of Co-Evolution between the Cuckoo, Cuculus canorus, and its Hosts. II. Host Egg Markings, Chick Discrimination and General Discussion

N. B. Davies and M. De L. Brooke
Journal of Animal Ecology
Vol. 58, No. 1 (Feb., 1989), pp. 225-236
DOI: 10.2307/4996
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4996
Page Count: 12
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An Experimental Study of Co-Evolution between the Cuckoo, Cuculus canorus, and its Hosts. II. Host Egg Markings, Chick Discrimination and General Discussion
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Abstract

(1) There was no difference in the distinctiveness of egg markings between species that have interacted strongly with cuckoos and species that have not, nor in intra-clutch variation, nor in inter-clutch variation within a species. In Iceland, where they are isolated from cuckoos, the eggs of meadow pipits and pied/white wagtails showed no differences in intra-clutch variation, nor inter-clutch variation, from those in parasitized populations in Britain. Thus there was no evidence that host egg patterns evolve in response to cuckoos. (2) None of the four species tested discriminated against an odd chick (another species) in their nest (chaffinch, reed warbler, reed bunting, dunnock). Hosts therefore evolve discrimination against odd eggs but not against odd chicks. (3) The variation in rejection of unlike eggs among different species of suitable cuckoo hosts is not related to the current costs or benefits of rejecting cuckoo eggs. We suggest that the variation represents snap shots in evolutionary time of different stages of a continuing arms race between the cuckoo and its hosts.

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