Advertisement

Journal of Ethology

, 26:389 | Cite as

Egg rejection behaviour in the great reed warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus): the effect of egg type

  • Marcel HonzaEmail author
  • Csaba Moskát
Article

Abstract

Egg discrimination in hosts of the common cuckoo Cuculus canorus is frequently studied by experimental parasitism, using model cuckoo eggs. We compared egg rejection behaviour of the great reed warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus to either model cuckoo eggs made of plastic or painted real host eggs. We simultaneously parasitised host nests by two different egg types to simulate cuckoo parasitism. A previous study revealed very similar, ca. 70%, rejection rates against both of these egg types (beige or bluish background colour maculated with dark brown) when they were used for single parasitism. In the present study we showed 96% average rejection rates against these egg types when they were applied in multiple experimental parasitism, causing a more predictable output for rejection behaviour. Hard plastic eggs and painted real eggs were rejected at similar frequencies, and videotaping revealed that model egg rejection caused extra work for great reed warblers. We revealed a new type of rejection behaviour, when hosts tried to eject hard-shelled model cuckoo eggs: Hosts made little holes in the middle part of these plastic eggs by pecking them several times before ejection, as if seeking the possibility to pierce and hold these eggs in their bills. Painted real eggs were rejected by actually puncturing the eggshell and holding them in the bill during ejection. No instances of grasp ejection were recorded during filming. Most experimental eggs of either type were ejected within 1 day after the introduction of the eggs, indicating that hosts made their rejection decisions quickly. Our observations suggest the lack of plasticity in the mode and timing of ejection behaviour towards experimental cuckoo eggs of different types in great reed warblers.

Keywords

Brood parasitism Egg ejection Hosts Decision making Cuculus canorus 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The study was supported by the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic (A6093203, IAA 600930605) operating to M.H. and by the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund (OTKA) no. T48397 to C.M. Tibor Kisbenedek, Zsolt Karcza and István Bártol kindly helped in the fieldwork and Mark Hauber commented on the manuscript. The Duna-Ipoly National Park provided permission for research.

References

  1. Alvarez F (1996) Model cuckoo Cuculus canorus eggs accepted by rufous bush chats Cercotrichas galactotes during the parasite’s absence from the breeding area. Ibis 138:340–342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alvarez F (1999) Attractive non-mimetic stimuli in cuckoo Cuculus canorus eggs. Ibis 141:142–144Google Scholar
  3. Andou D, Nakamura H, Oomori S, Higuchi H (2005) Characteristics of brood parasitism by common cuckoos on azure-winged magpies, as illustrated by video recordings. Ornithol Sci 4:43–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Antonov A, Stokke BG, Moksnes A, Røskaft E (2006a) Egg rejection in marsh warblers (Acrocephalus palustris) parasitized by common cuckoos (Cuculus canorus). Auk 123:419–430CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Antonov A, Stokke BG, Moksnes A, Honza M, Røskaft E (2006b) Eggshell strength of an obligate brood parasite: a test of the puncture resistance hypothesis. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 60:11–18. doi: 10.1007/s00265-005-0132-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Antonov A, Stokke BG, Moksnes A, Røskaft E (2008) Getting rid of the cuckoo Cuculus canorus egg: why do hosts delay rejection? Behav Ecol 19:100–107. doi: 10.1093/beheco/arm102 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Avilés JM (2004) Egg rejection by Iberian azure-winged magpies Cyanopica cyanus in the absence of brood parasitism. J Avian Biol 35:295–299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Barabás L, Gilicze B, Takasu F, Moskát C (2004) Survival and anti-parasite defense in a host metapopulation under heavy brood parasitism: a source-sink dynamic model. J Ethol 22:143–151. doi: 10.1007/s10164-003-0114-y CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bártol I, Karcza Z, Moskát C, Røskaft E, Kisbenedek T (2002) Responses of great reed warblers Acrocephalus arundinaceus to experimental brood parasitism: the effects of a cuckoo Cuculus canorus dummy and egg mimicry. J Avian Biol 33:420–425CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cherry MI, Bennett ATD, Moskát C (2007) Do cuckoos choose nests of great reed warblers on the basis of host egg appearance? J Evol Biol 20:1218–1222PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cramp S (1985) The birds of the western Palearctic, vol 4. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  12. Davies NB (2000) Cuckoos, cowbirds and other cheats. T. A. D. Poyser, LondonGoogle Scholar
  13. Davies NB, Brooke M, de L (1988) Cuckoos versus reed warblers: adaptations and counteradaptations. Anim Behav 36:262–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Davies NB, Brooke M, de L (1989a) An experimental study of co-evolution between the cuckoo Cuculus canorus, and its hosts. I. Host egg discrimination. J Anim Ecol 58:207–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Davies NB, Brooke M, de L (1989b) An experimental study of co-evolution between the cuckoo Cuculus canorus, and its hosts. II. Host egg discrimination. J Anim Ecol 58:225–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dawkins R, Krebs JR (1979) Arms races between and within species. Proc R Soc Lond B 205:489–511PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dyrcz A, Halupka K (2007) Why does the frequency of nest parasitism by the cuckoo differ considerably between two populations of warblers living in the same habitat? Ethology 113:209–213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Grim T (2005) Mimicry vs. similarity: which resemblances between brood parasites and their hosts are mimetic and which are not? Biol J Linnean Soc 84:69–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hauber ME (1998) Single-egg removal from an artificial nest by the Gray Catbird. Wilson Bull 110:426–429Google Scholar
  20. Hauber ME, Dearborn DC (2003) Parentage without parental care: what to look for in genetic studies of obligate brood-parasitic mating systems. Auk 120:1–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hauber ME, Moskát C, Bán M (2006) Experimental shift in hosts’ acceptance threshold of inaccurate-mimic brood parasitic eggs. Biol Lett 2:177–180PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Higuchi H (1989) Responses of the bush warbler Cettia diphone to artificial eggs of Cuculus cuckoos in Japan. Ibis 131:94–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Honza M, Picman J, Grim T, Novák V, Capek M Jr, Mrlik V (2001) How to hatch from an egg of great structural strength. A study of the common cuckoo. J Avian Biol 32:249–255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Honza M, Grim T, Čapek M, Moksnes A, Røskaft E (2004a) Nest defence, enemy recognition and nest inspection behaviour of experimentally parasitised reed warblers (Acrocephalus scirpaceus). Bird Study 51:256–263Google Scholar
  25. Honza M, Procházka P, Stokke BG, Moksnes A, Røskaft E, Capek M Jr, Mrlík V (2004b) Are blackcaps current winners in the evolutionary struggle against the common cuckoo? J Ethol 22:175–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Honza M, Kuiper SM, Cherry MI (2005) Behaviour of African turdid hosts towards experimental parasitism with artificial red-chested cuckoo Cuculus solitarius eggs. J Avian Biol 36:517–522CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Honza M, Moskát C (2005) Antiparasite behaviour in responses to experimental brood parasitism in the great reed warbler: a comparison of single and multiple parasitism. Ann Zool Fenn 42:627–633Google Scholar
  28. Honza M, Polaciková L, Procházka P (2007a) Ultraviolet and green parts of the colour spectrum affect egg rejection in the song thrush (Turdus philomelos). Biol J Linnean Soc 92:269–276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Honza M, Pozgayová M, Procházka P, Tkadlec E (2007b) Consistency in egg rejection behaviour: responses to repeated brood parasitism in the blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla). Ethology 113:344–351CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Krüger O, Davies NB (2004) The evolution of egg size in the brood parasitic cuckoos. Behav Ecol 15:210–218 doi: 10.1093/beheco/arg104 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Latif Q, Grenier JL, Heath S, Ballard G, Hauber ME (2006) First evidence of conspecific brood parasitism in Song Sparrows accompanied by egg ejection and discussion of methods sufficient to document these behaviours. Condor 108:452–458CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lotem A, Nakamura H, Zahavi A (1995) Constraints on egg discrimination and cuckoo-host coevolution. Anim Behav 49:1185–1209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lovászi P, Moskát C (2004) Break-down of arms race between the red-backed shrike (Lanius collurio) and common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus). Behaviour 141:245–262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Makatsch W (1953) Unser Kuckuck. Die Neue Brehm-Bücherei. Akademische Verlag, LeipzigGoogle Scholar
  35. Martin-Vivaldi M, Soler M, Møller AP (2002) Unrealistically high costs of rejecting artificial model eggs in Cuckoo Cuculus canorus hosts. J Avian Biol 33:295–301CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Moksnes A, Røskaft E (1989) Adaptations of meadow pipits to parasitism by the common cuckoo. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 24:25–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Moksnes A, Røskaft E (1992) Responses of some rare cuckoo hosts to mimetic model cuckoo eggs and to foreign conspecific eggs. Ornis Scand 23:17–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Moksnes A, Røskaft E (1995) Egg-morphs and host preference in the common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus: an analysis of Cuckoo and host eggs from European museum collections. J Zool Lond 236:625–648CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Moksnes A, Røskaft E, Bičík V, Honza M, Øien IJE (1993a) Cuckoo Cuculus canorus parasitism on Acrocephalus warblers in Southern Moravia in the Czech republic. J Ornithol 134:425–434CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Moksnes A, Røskaft E, Braa AT (1991a) Rejection behavior by common cuckoo hosts towards artificial cuckoo eggs. Auk 108:348–354Google Scholar
  41. Moksnes A, Røskaft E, Braa AT, Kornses L, Lampe HM, Pedersen HC (1991b) Behavioural responses of potentional hosts towards artificial Cuckoo eggs and dummies. Behaviour 116:64–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Moksnes A, Røskaft E, Kornsnes A (1993b) Rejection of cuckoo Cuculus canorus eggs by meadow pipits Anthus pratensis. Behav Ecol 4:120–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Moksnes A, Røskaft E, Solli MM (1994) Documenting puncture ejection of parasitic eggs by Chaffinches Fringilla coelebs and Blackaps Sylvia atricapilla. Fauna norvegica Ser C Cinclus 17:115–118Google Scholar
  44. Moskát C (2005) Nest defence and egg rejection in great reed warblers over the breeding cycle: are they synchronised with the risk of brood parasitism? Ann Zool Fennici 42:579–586Google Scholar
  45. Moskát C, Fuisz TI (1999) Reactions of Red-backed Shrikes Lanius collurio to artificial Cuckoo Cuculus canorus eggs. J Avian Biol 30:175–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Moskát C, Honza M (2002) European Cuckoo Cuculus canorus parasitism and host’s rejection behaviour in a heavily parasitized Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus population. Ibis 144:614–622CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Moskát C, Barta Z, Hauber ME, Honza M (2006) High synchrony of egg laying in common cuckoos (Cuculus canorus) and their great reed warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) hosts. Ethol Ecol Evol 18:159–167Google Scholar
  48. Moskát C, Székely T, Cuthill IC, Kisbenedek T (2008) Hosts’ responses to parasitic eggs: which cues elicit hosts’ egg discrimination? Ethology 114:186–196Google Scholar
  49. Moskát C, Szentpéteri J, Barta Z (2002) Adaptations by great reed warblers to brood parasitism: a comparison of populations in sympatry and allopatry with the cuckoo. Behaviour 139:1313–1329CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Nakamura H, Kubota S, Suzuki R (1998) Coevolution between the Common Cuckoo and its major hosts in Japan. In: Edits SI, Rothstein SK (eds) Robinson parasitic birds and their hosts: studies in coevolution. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 94–112Google Scholar
  51. PANTONE (1995) Color formula guide 1000. Pantone Inc., New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  52. Polaciková L, Honza M, Procházka P, Topercer J, Stokke BG (2007) Colour characteristics of the bunt egg pole: cues for recognition of parasitic eggs as revealed by reflectance spectrophotometry. Anim Behav 74:419–427CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Prather JW, Cruz A, Weaver PE, Wiley JW (2007) Effects of experimental egg composition on rejection by village weavers (Ploceus cucullatus). Wilson J Ornithol 119:703–711CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Procházka P, Honza M (2003) Do common whitethroats (Sylvia communis) discriminate against alien eggs? J Ornithol 144:354–363Google Scholar
  55. Rohwer S, Spaw CD (1988) Evolutionary lag versus bill-size constraints: a comparative study of the acceptance of cowbird eggs by old hosts. Evol Ecol 2:27–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Rothstein SI, Robinson SK (1998) The evolution of avian brood parasitsm. In: Rothstein SI, Robinson SK (eds) Parasitic birds and their hosts: studies in coevolution. University Press, New York, pp 3–56Google Scholar
  57. Rutila J, Jokimäki J, Avilés JM, Kaisanlahti-Jokimäki M-L (2006) Responses of parasitized and unparasitized common redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) populations against artificial cuckoo parasitism. Auk 123:259–265CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Sealy SG, Bazin RC (1995) Low frequency of observed cowbird parasitism on eastern kingbirds: host rejection, effective nest defense, or parasite avoidance? Behav Ecol 2:140–145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Sealy SG, Neudorf DL (1995) Male Northern Orioles eject Cowbird eggs: implications for the evolution of rejection behavior. Condor 97:369–375CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Soler M, Martín-Vivaldi M, Pérez-Contreras T (2002) Identification of the sex responsible for recognition and the method of ejection of parasitic eggs in some potentional common Cuckoo hosts. Ethology 108:1–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Stokke BG, Honza M, Moksnes A, Røskaft E, Rudolfsen G (2002) Costs associated with recognition and rejection of parasitic eggs in two European passerines. Behaviour 139:629–644CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Stokke BG, Rudolfsen G, Moksnes A, Røskaft E (2004) Rejection of conspecific eggs in chaffinches: the effect of age and clutch characteristics. Ethology 118:459–470CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Stokke BG, Moksnes A, Røskaft E, Rudolfsen G, Honza M (1999) Rejection of artificial cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) eggs in relation to variation in egg appearance among reed warblers (Acrocephalus scirpaceus). Proc R Soc Lond B 266:1483–1488CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Takasu F (1998) Modelling the arms race in avian brood parasitism. Evol Ecol 12:969–987CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Török J, Moskát C, Michl G, Péczely P (2004) Common cuckoos (Cuculus canorus) lay eggs with larger yolk but not more testosterone than their great reed warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) hosts. Ethol Ecol Evol 16:271–277Google Scholar
  66. Underwood TJ, Sealy SG (2006) Grasp-ejection in two small ejecters of cowbird eggs: a test of bill-size contrasts and the evolutionary equilibrium hypothesis. Anim Behav 71:409–416CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Wyllie I (1981) The cuckoo. Batsford, LondonGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Japan Ethological Society and Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Vertebrate BiologyAS CRBrnoCzech Republic
  2. 2.Animal Ecology Research Group of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, c/o Hungarian Natural History MuseumBudapestHungary

Personalised recommendations