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Egg rejection and clutch phenotype variation in the plain prinia Prinia inornata

Author:
Wang, Longwu, Liang, Wei, Yang, Canchao, Cheng, Shun‐Jen, Hsu, Yu‐Cheng, Lu, Xin
Source:
Journal of avian biology 2016 v.47 no.6 pp. 788-794
ISSN:
0908-8857
Subject:
Cuculus canorus, birds, breeding, brood parasitism, color, eggs, hosts, morphs, nests, parasites, phenotype, prediction, selection pressure, China, Taiwan
Abstract:
Avian hosts of brood parasites can evolve anti‐parasitic defenses to recognize and reject foreign eggs from their nests. Theory predicts that higher inter‐clutch and lower intra‐clutch variation in egg appearance facilitates hosts to detect parasitic eggs as egg‐rejection mainly depends on the appearance of the egg. Therefore, we predict that egg patterns and rejection rates will differ when hosts face different intensity of cuckoo parasitism. We tested this prediction in two populations of the plain prinia Prinia inornata: Guangxi in mainland China with high diversity and density of cuckoo species, and Taiwan where there is only one breeding cuckoo species, the oriental cuckoo Cuculus optatus. As expected, egg patterns were similar within clutches but different among clutches (polymorphic eggs) in the mainland population, while the island population produced more uniform egg morphs. Furthermore, the mainland population showed a high rate of egg rejection, while the island population exhibited dramatically reduced egg grasp‐rejection ability in the absence of parasitism by the common cuckoo Cuculus canorus. Our study suggests that prinias show lower intra‐clutch consistency in egg colour and lose egg‐rejecting ability under relaxed selection pressure from brood parasitism.
Agid:
5720214