Post-ejection nest-desertion of common cuckoo hosts: A second defense mechanism or avoiding reduced reproductive success?

C. Moskát, Erik C. Rosendaal, Myra Boers, Anikó Zölei, Miklós Bán, Jan Komdeur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Hosts of the common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus), an avian brood parasite, develop antiparasite defense mechanisms to increase their reproductive success. Ejection of the parasite egg and desertion of the parasitized nest are the most typical adaptations in response to brood parasitism, but nest desertion may also occur in response to partial clutch reduction, independently from parasitism. Some great reed warblers (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) showed both mechanisms in the same incidence of cuckoo parasitism: in 18% of successful ejections of the parasite eggs, they deserted their nests. We studied if such cases of post-ejection nest-desertion are caused by brood parasitism or reduced clutch value. We experimentally parasitized clutches consisting of five or three host eggs with two painted conspecific eggs to mimic parasitic eggs, as multiple parasitism is frequent in the area. Although hosts ejected these parasitic eggs in both clutch categories (100% and 67% for the larger and smaller inital clutch sizes, respectively), we found that after manipulation, post-ejection nest-desertion frequently occurred at small (3-egg) clutches (40%), but rarely at large (5-egg) clutches (17%). The same phenomenon also occurred when unparasitized 3-egg clutches were reduced by two eggs, but not when 5-egg clutches were reduced in the same way. A logistic regression model revealed that only initial clutch size affected nest desertion of parasitized nests in our experiments. Therefore, we conclude that post-ejection nest-desertion is not a second antiparasite mechanism, which might serve as a redundant antiparasite defense, but a reaction to typically small and further decreased clutch size.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1045-1053
Number of pages9
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Volume65
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2011

Fingerprint

brood desertion
Cuculus canorus
defense mechanism
defense mechanisms
reproductive success
nests
egg
egg masses
clutch size
antiparasite defense
parasitism
parasites
brood parasitism
nest
parasite
multiparasitism
incidence

Keywords

  • Antiparasite defense
  • Clutch reduction
  • Clutch size
  • Cuckoo
  • Great reed warbler

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

Cite this

Post-ejection nest-desertion of common cuckoo hosts : A second defense mechanism or avoiding reduced reproductive success? / Moskát, C.; Rosendaal, Erik C.; Boers, Myra; Zölei, Anikó; Bán, Miklós; Komdeur, Jan.

In: Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, Vol. 65, No. 5, 05.2011, p. 1045-1053.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Moskát, C. ; Rosendaal, Erik C. ; Boers, Myra ; Zölei, Anikó ; Bán, Miklós ; Komdeur, Jan. / Post-ejection nest-desertion of common cuckoo hosts : A second defense mechanism or avoiding reduced reproductive success?. In: Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 2011 ; Vol. 65, No. 5. pp. 1045-1053.
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