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Cuckoo–Host Coevolutionary Interactions Across All Breeding Stages: Unusual Ecological Setting of a Cavity-Nesting Host

  • Tomáš Grim
  • Jarkko Rutila
Chapter
Part of the Fascinating Life Sciences book series (FLS)

Abstract

The great majority of brood parasitism studies focused on a single ontogenetic stage, typically egg stage, and on open-nesting hosts, especially those of the common cuckoo. Using extensive data from the cuckoo’s only known regular cavity-nesting host, the common redstart, we highlight the importance of a comprehensive approach when all ontogenetic stages are studied. In contrast to open-nesting hosts, only minority of the cuckoo eggs are a threat to redstart hosts: most are laid outside the host nest cup and perish. Contrary to previous claims, we found that the impact of parasitism per host nest was virtually the same between this only regular cuckoo cavity-nesting host and a typical open-nesting host (the reed warbler): in both species, fitness of an average non-parasitized host nest was by an order of magnitude higher than fitness of an average parasitized host nest. This was partly because of uniquely low eviction success of cuckoo chicks and resulting cohabitation of parasite and host progeny in mixed broods. Data from post-fledging period, which remains the least known stage of parasite–host coevolution in any study system globally, were crucial because they showed that data from nestling period greatly overestimated cuckoo fitness. We suggest that metareplication of these approaches (i.e. integrative study of laying, incubation, nestling, fledgling and migration stages) across various parasite–host systems is the most important task for future coevolutionary studies in the context of brood parasite–host coevolution.

Notes

Acknowledgements

We dedicate this contribution to J. Haikola who initiated the long-term cuckoo research in our study area. We are grateful to M. Kysučan, P. Samaš and Z. Tyller for their work in the field. P. Samaš, R. L. Thomson and J. Tolvanen commented on drafts. The manuscript benefitted from comments by L. de Neve, W. Liang and M. Soler. Our research was supported by the Human Frontier Science Program (RGY69/2007 and RGY83/2012), the Czech Science Foundation (P506/12/2404) and Internal Grant Agency of Palacký University (PrF_2014_018, PrF_2015_018, IGA_PrF_2016_017).

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Zoology and Laboratory of OrnithologyPalacký UniversityOlomoucCzech Republic
  2. 2.Näätäkarankatu 14 B 9LappeenrantaFinland

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