Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Egg Mimicry

  • William E. FeeneyEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_2677-1



An evolved resemblance of host eggs by the eggs of avian brood parasites, resulting from Darwinian natural selection.


The interactions between avian brood parasites, such as cuckoos or cowbirds, and their hosts have emerged as model systems to study coevolutionary processes under natural conditions. Instead of building a nest and tending their offspring, brood parasites lay their eggs in the nests of other birds and abandon the care of their young to the host. Adult parasites tend to remove or damage host eggs when depositing their own and parasite chicks generally eliminate the rest of the host’s brood after hatching. Consequently, hosts evolve defences against brood parasites, which select counteradaptations in parasites, further counteradaptations in hosts, and so on. While evidence of reciprocal adaptations and counteradaptations in hosts and brood parasites are evident at all stages of the host’s nesting cycle...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Russell Jackson
    • 1
  1. 1.University of IdahoMoscowUSA