Advertisement

Journal of Ethology

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 255–262 | Cite as

Linking nest predation with brood parasitism in captive zebra finches: a multi-pair study

  • Rachael C. ShawEmail author
  • Mark E. Hauber
Article

Abstract

Zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) are social, colonial nesting birds with moderate levels of intraspecific brood parasitism reported in both wild and captive populations. In a previous study, individually housed, captive zebra finch pairs responded to nest removal during the egg-laying period by parasitising simulated active conspecific nests. In the study reported here, we investigated the role of nest loss as a proximate trigger for parasitism in a more naturalistic setting: small groups consisting of three pairs per aviary. In three of ten experimental trials, females responded to nest removal during the egg-laying period by laying eggs in active neighbouring nests. This rate of parasitism was lower than that reported previously for individually housed pairs, and aggressive interactions between hosts and putative parasites were also observed. The results provide further support for the Hamilton–Orians hypothesis for the evolutionary origin of brood parasitism and highlight the influence of social context on the expression of brood parasitic behaviour. Together with qualitative descriptions of several previously unreported behaviours associated with nesting and brood parasitism in captive zebra finches, these experiments provide a functional context and methodology for future studies on zebra finches as a potential new model for the ecology and evolution of brood parasitism.

Keywords

Estrildid Intraspecific brood parasitism Egg dumping Nest predation 

Notes

Acknowledgments

For assistance in the laboratory, we are grateful to D. Campbell and B. Igic. The experiments were approved by the Animal Ethics Committee, and funding was provided by the Research Committee of the University of Auckland, the Human Frontier Science Program and the PSC-CUNY grant scheme.

References

  1. Birkhead TR, Hunter FM, Pellatt JE (1989) Sperm competition in the zebra finch, Taeniopygia guttata. Anim Behav 38:935–950CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Birkhead TR, Burke T, Zann R, Hunter FM, Krupa AP (1990) Extra-pair paternity and intraspecific brood parasitism in wild zebra finches Taeniopygia guttata, revealed by DNA fingerprinting. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 27:315–324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brenowitz EA, Margoliash D, Nordeen KW (1997) An introduction to birdsong and the avian song system. J Neurobiol 33:495–500PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Burley NT, Calkin JD (1999) Sex ratios and sexual selection in socially monogamous zebra finches. Behav Ecol 10:626–635CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Burley NT, Parker PG, Lundy K (1996) Sexual selection and extrapair fertilization in a socially monogamous passerine, the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata). Behav Ecol 7:218–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Campbell DLM, Shaw RC, Hauber ME (2009) The strength of species recognition in captive female zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata): a comparison across estrildid heterospecifics. Ethology 115:23–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Christians JK, Williams TD (2001) Interindividual variation in yolk mass and the rate of growth of ovarian follicles in the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata). J Comp Physiol B 171:255–261PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Eadie JM, Smith JNM, Zadworny D, Kühnlein U, Cheng K (2010) Probing parentage in parasitic birds: an evaluation of methods to detect conspecific brood parasitism using goldeneyes Bucephala islandica and Bl. clangula as a test case. J Avian Biol 41:163–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fenske B, Burley NT (1995) Responses of zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) to experimental intraspecific brood parasitism. Auk 112:415–420Google Scholar
  10. Forstmeier W, Segelbacher G, Mueller JC, Kempenaers B (2007) Genetic variation and differentiation in captive and wild zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). Mol Ecol 16:4039–4050PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Griffith SC, Buchanan KL (2010) The zebra finch: the ultimate Australian supermodel. Emu 110:5–12Google Scholar
  12. Griffith SC, Pryke SR, Mariette M (2008) Nest box use by the zebra finch Taeniopygia guttata: implications for reproductive success and research. Emu 108:311–319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Griffith SC, Holleley CE, Mariette MM, Pryke SR, Svedin N (2010) Low level of extrapair parentage in wild zebra finches. Anim Behav 79:261–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hamilton WJ, Orians GH (1965) Evolution of brood parasitism in altricial birds. Condor 67:361–382CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hauber ME, Campbell DLM, Woolley SMN (2010) Functional role and female perception of male song in zebra finches. Emu 110:209–218Google Scholar
  16. Latif QS, Grenier JL, Heath SK, Ballard G, Hauber ME (2006) First evidence of conspecific brood parasitism and egg ejection in song sparrows, with comments on methods sufficient to document these behaviours. Condor 108:452–458CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Luo M, Yu Y, Kim H, Kudrna D, Itoh Y, Agate RJ, Melamed E, Goicoechea JL, Talag J, Mueller C, Wang W, Currie J, Sisneros NB, Wing RA, Arnold AP (2006) Utilization of a zebra finch BAC library to determine the structure of an avian androgen receptor genomic region. Genomics 87:181–190PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lyon BE (2003) Ecological and social constraints on conspecific brood parasitism by nesting female American coots (Fulica americana). J Anim Ecol 72:47–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lyon BE, Eadie JM (2008) Conspecific brood parasitism in birds: a life history perspective. Annu Rev Ecol Evol Syst 39:343–363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. McRae SB (1997) A rise in nest predation enhances the frequency of intraspecific brood parasitism in a moorhen population. J Anim Ecol 66:143–153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Riehl C (2010) Egg ejection risk and hatching asynchrony predict egg mass in a communally-breeding cuckoo, the Greater Ani (Crotophaga major). Behav Ecol 21:676–683CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Rothstein SI (1993) An experimental test of the Hamilton–Orians hypothesis for the origin of avian brood parasitism. Condor 95:1000–1005CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Rutstein AN, Brazill-Boast J, Griffith SC (2007) Evaluating mate choice in the zebra finch. Anim Behav 74:1277–1284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Schielzeth H, Bolund E (2010) Patterns of conspecific brood parasitism in zebra finches. Anim Behav 79:1329–1337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Shaw RC, Hauber ME (2009) Experimental support for the role of nest predation in the evolution of brood parasitism. J Evol Biol 22:1354–1358PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Stouffer PC, Power HW (1991) Brood parasitism by starlings experimentally forced to desert their nests. Ibis 41:537–539Google Scholar
  27. Williams TD, Miller M (2003) Individual and resource-dependent variation in ability to lay supranormal clutches in response to egg removal. Auk 120:481–489CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Zann RA (1996) The zebra finch: a synthesis of field and laboratory studies. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Japan Ethological Society and Springer 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.Department of Experimental PsychologyCambridge UniversityCambridgeUK
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyHunter College of the City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations