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Cuckoos as Indicators of Biodiversity

  • Anders Pape Møller
  • Federico Morelli
  • Piotr Tryjanowski
Chapter
Part of the Fascinating Life Sciences book series (FLS)

Abstract

Brood parasites constitute a small fraction of all individuals and species of birds in any given community. Cuckoos may constitute unique bioindicators of species richness because the presence of the cuckoo is positively correlated with high values of taxonomic diversity, functional richness and functional evenness of bird communities. A number of studies of common cuckoos Cuculus canorus in Europe and Asia have shown that cuckoos are particularly successful surrogates of biodiversity. These relationships between cuckoo abundance and species richness of birds apply both to cuckoo hosts and non-hosts. Such an ability to indicate biodiversity may arise from unique aspects of the biology of cuckoos including their diet of caterpillar larvae, their parasitic behaviour and their adaptation to a large diversity of hosts. Cuckoo songs are widely known to the general public, and they are repeated ceaselessly during the breeding season. The common cuckoo has since ancient times been considered to reveal the quality of human habitats by reflecting the quality of local living conditions and hence human longevity. In fact, we have documented that this might be the case. The number of repeats of syllables in such songs reliably reflects intrinsic individual quality but also extrinsic habitat quality. Thus different aspects of indicator ability are revealed by different aspects of the ecology of cuckoos. We provide a number of ways in which this approach may be extended to brood parasites and parasites in general.

Keywords

Biodiversity Conservation Cuckoos Evolutionary diversity Functional biodiversity Hosts Phylogenetic diversity Species richness Song 

Notes

Acknowledgements

To referees, J.D. Ibáñez-Álamo, J.J. Soler and M. Soler, who provided useful comments.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anders Pape Møller
    • 1
  • Federico Morelli
    • 2
  • Piotr Tryjanowski
    • 3
  1. 1.Ecologie Systématique EvolutionUniversité Paris-Sud, CNRS, AgroParisTech,Université Paris-SaclayOrsay CedexFrance
  2. 2.Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Department of Applied Geoinformatics and Spatial PlanningCzech University of Life Sciences PraguePrague 6Czech Republic
  3. 3.Institute of ZoologyPoznan University of Life SciencesPoznańPoland

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