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Journal für Ornithologie

, Volume 144, Issue 3, pp 354–363 | Cite as

Do Common Whitethroats (Sylvia communis) discriminate against alien eggs?

  • Petr ProcházkaEmail author
  • Marcel Honza
Article

Summary

In a coevolutionary arms race between a brood parasite and its host, both species are expected to evolve adaptations and counteradaptations, such as egg mimicry and egg discrimination. The Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis) is a regular Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) host in some parts of its breeding range. We studied egg discrimination in the Whitethroat in the south-eastern part of the Czech Republic in an area where the Whitethroat is parasitised only occasionally. To investigate responses to parasitic eggs, in 34 nests either a non-mimetic or a mimetic (conspecific) egg was added. All 21 non-mimetic eggs were ejected. Of the 13 mimetic eggs, 7 were ejected and 6 eggs were accepted. No significant differences were found in intraclutch variation in egg appearance between acceptors and rejecters. Ejected mimetic eggs, however, showed greater contrast with host eggs than did the mimetic eggs that were accepted. Our experiments show that Whitethroats are persistent rejecters of alien eggs at the study site. This fact is discussed in the light of the host selection and host-parasite coevolution hypotheses.

Keywords

brood parasitism cuckoo egg ejection egg recognition egg rejection 

Erkennen die Dorngrasmücken (Sylvia communis) fremde Eier?

Zusammenfassung

Brutparasiten und ihre Wirte befinden sich in einem koevolutiven Wettrüsten, in dessen Verlauf sie Adaptationen und Gegenadaptationen entwickeln (z. B. Eimimikry und Eiunterscheidung). Die Dorngrasmücke (Sylvia communis) gehört in einigen Teilen ihres Brutareals zu regelmäßigen Wirten des Kuckucks (Cuculus canorus). Wir untersuchten in einer gelegentlich parasitierten Population der Dorngrasmücke im Südosten Tschechiens die Fähigkeit, fremde Eier zu erkennen. Dazu wurden in 34 Nestern der Dorngrasmücke entweder ein nichtmimetisches (artfremdes) oder ein mimetisches (konspezifisches) Ei eingelegt. Sämtliche der 21 nichtmimetischen Eier wurden von den Nestinhabern ausgeworfen. Von 13 mimetischen Eiern wurden 7 selektiv entfernt, die restlichen Eier wurden angenommen. Unsere Studie erbrachte keine signifikanten Unterschiede hinsichtlich der phänotypischen Gelegevariation zwischen Akzeptoren und Ablehnern. Die ausgeworfenen mimetischen Eier unterschieden sich jedoch phänotypisch mehr von den Wirtseiern im Vergleich zu den akzeptierten Eiern. Unsere Experimente zeigten, dass Dorngrasmücken in unserem Untersuchungsgebiet fremde Eier zu einem großen Teil erkennen und strikt ablehnen. Dieses Ergebnis wird im Licht der Wirt-Parasit-Koevolutionshypothesen und Wirtsselektionshypothesen diskutiert.

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Copyright information

© Deutsche Ornithologen-Gesellschaft/Blackwell Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Vertebrate BiologyAcademy of Sciences of the Czech RepublicBrnoCzech Republic
  2. 2.Department of Zoology, Faculty of ScienceCharles UniversityPragueCzech Republic

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