Internal incubation and early hatching in brood parasitic birds

T. R. Birkhead, N. Hemmings, C. N. Spottiswoode, O. Mikulica, C. Moskát, M. Bán, K. Schulze-Hagen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The offspring of brood parasitic birds benefit from hatching earlier than host young. A proposed but little known strategy to achieve this is 'internal incubation', by retaining the egg in the oviduct for an additional 24 h. To test this, we quantified the stage of embryo development at laying in four brood parasitic birds (European cuckoo, Cuculus canorus; African cuckoo, Cuculus gularis; greater honeyguide, Indicator indicator; and the cuckoo finch, Anomalospiza imberbis). For the two cuckoos and the honeyguide, all of which lay at 48 h intervals, embryos were at a relatively advanced stage at laying; but for the cuckoo finch (laying interval: 24 h) embryo stage was similar to all other passerines laying at 24 h intervals. The stage of embryo development in the two cuckoos and honeyguide was similar to that of a non arasitic species that lay at an interval of 44-46 h, but also to the eggs of the zebra finch Taeniopygia guttata incubated artificially at body temperature immediately after laying, for a further 24 h. Comparison with the zebra finch shows that internal incubation in the two cuckoos and honeyguide advances hatching by 31 h, a figure consistent with the difference between the expected and the observed duration of incubation in the European cuckoo predicted from egg mass. Rather than being a specific adaptation to brood parasitism, internal incubation is a direct consequence of a protracted interval between ovulation (and fertilization) and laying, but because it results in early hatching may have predisposed certain species to become brood parasitic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1019-1024
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume278
Issue number1708
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Fingerprint

Finches
Cuculidae
Taeniopygia guttata
Birds
hatching
embryo
incubation
bird
Equidae
birds
embryo (animal)
Cuculus
embryogenesis
egg
Cuculus canorus
Embryonic Development
Ovum
Embryonic Structures
fertilization (reproduction)
oviducts

Keywords

  • Brood parasite
  • Cuckoo
  • Eggs
  • Embryo development
  • Honeyguide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Birkhead, T. R., Hemmings, N., Spottiswoode, C. N., Mikulica, O., Moskát, C., Bán, M., & Schulze-Hagen, K. (2011). Internal incubation and early hatching in brood parasitic birds. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 278(1708), 1019-1024. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2010.1504

Internal incubation and early hatching in brood parasitic birds. / Birkhead, T. R.; Hemmings, N.; Spottiswoode, C. N.; Mikulica, O.; Moskát, C.; Bán, M.; Schulze-Hagen, K.

In: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Vol. 278, No. 1708, 2011, p. 1019-1024.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Birkhead, TR, Hemmings, N, Spottiswoode, CN, Mikulica, O, Moskát, C, Bán, M & Schulze-Hagen, K 2011, 'Internal incubation and early hatching in brood parasitic birds', Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, vol. 278, no. 1708, pp. 1019-1024. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2010.1504
Birkhead, T. R. ; Hemmings, N. ; Spottiswoode, C. N. ; Mikulica, O. ; Moskát, C. ; Bán, M. ; Schulze-Hagen, K. / Internal incubation and early hatching in brood parasitic birds. In: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 2011 ; Vol. 278, No. 1708. pp. 1019-1024.
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