Competition with a host nestling for parental provisioning imposes recoverable costs on parasitic cuckoo chick's growth

Nikoletta Geltsch, Márk E. Hauber, Michael G. Anderson, Miklós Bán, Csaba Moskát

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Chicks of the brood parasitic common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) typically monopolize host parental care by evicting all eggs and nestmates from the nest. To assess the benefits of parasitic eviction behaviour throughout the full nestling period, we generated mixed broods of one cuckoo and one great reed warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) to study how hosts divide care between own and parasitic young. We also recorded parental provisioning behaviour at nests of singleton host nestlings or singleton cuckoo chicks. Host parents fed the three types of broods with similar-sized food items. The mass of the cuckoo chicks was significantly reduced in mixed broods relative to singleton cuckoos. Yet, after the host chick fledged from mixed broods, at about 10-12 days, cuckoo chicks in mixed broods grew faster and appeared to have compensated for the growth costs of prior cohabitation by fledging at similar weights and ages compared to singleton cuckoo chicks. These results are contrary to suggestions that chick competition in mixed broods of cuckoos and hosts causes an irrecoverable cost for the developing brood parasite. Flexibility in cuckoo' growth dynamics may provide a general benefit to ecological uncertainty regarding the realized successes, failures, and costs of nestmate eviction strategies of brood parasites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)378-383
Number of pages6
JournalBehavioural Processes
Volume90
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2012

Keywords

  • Brood parasitism
  • Chick competition
  • Parental care
  • Supernormal stimulus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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