Egg eviction imposes a recoverable cost of virulence in chicks of a brood parasite

Michael G. Anderson, C. Moskát, Miklós Bán, Tomáš Grim, Phillip Cassey, Mark E. Hauber

Research output: Article

37 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Chicks of virulent brood parasitic birds eliminate their nestmates and avoid costly competition for foster parental care. Yet, efforts to evict nest contents by the blind and naked common cuckoo Cuculus canorus hatchling are counterintuitive as both adult parasites and large older cuckoo chicks appear to be better suited to tossing the eggs and young of the foster parents. Methodology/Principal Findings: Here we show experimentally that egg tossing imposed a recoverable growth cost of mass gain in common cuckoo chicks during the nestling period in nests of great reed warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus hosts. Growth rates of skeletal traits and morphological variables involved in the solicitation of foster parental care remained similar between evictor and non-evictor chicks throughout development. We also detected no increase in predation rates for evicting nests, suggesting that egg tossing behavior by common cuckoo hatchlings does not increase the conspicuousness of nests. Conclusion: The temporary growth cost of egg eviction by common cuckoo hatchlings is the result of constraints imposed by rejecter host adults and competitive nestmates on the timing and mechanism of parasite virulence.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere7725
JournalPLoS One
Volume4
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - nov. 11 2009

Fingerprint

Cuculus canorus
Ovum
Virulence
Parasites
virulence
chicks
Costs and Cost Analysis
parasites
nests
Birds
Growth
Costs
Songbirds
Eggs
foster care
predation
birds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Egg eviction imposes a recoverable cost of virulence in chicks of a brood parasite. / Anderson, Michael G.; Moskát, C.; Bán, Miklós; Grim, Tomáš; Cassey, Phillip; Hauber, Mark E.

In: PLoS One, Vol. 4, No. 11, e7725, 11.11.2009.

Research output: Article

Anderson, Michael G. ; Moskát, C. ; Bán, Miklós ; Grim, Tomáš ; Cassey, Phillip ; Hauber, Mark E. / Egg eviction imposes a recoverable cost of virulence in chicks of a brood parasite. In: PLoS One. 2009 ; Vol. 4, No. 11.
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