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Spatiotemporal patterns of egg laying in the common cuckoo

Koleček, Jaroslav and Piálková, Radka and Piálek, Lubomír and Šulc, Michal and Hughes, Anna E and Brlík, Vojtěch and Procházka, Petr and Požgayová, Milica and Capek, Miroslav and Sosnovcová, Kateřina and Štětková, Gabriela and Valterová, Radka and Honza, Marcel (2021) 'Spatiotemporal patterns of egg laying in the common cuckoo.' Animal Behaviour, 177. 107 - 116. ISSN 0003-3472

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Abstract

Understanding egg-laying behaviour of brood parasites in space and time can improve our knowledge of interactions between hosts and parasites. However, no studies have combined information on the laying activity of an obligate brood parasite with detailed information on the distribution of host nests within an area and time period. Here, we used molecular methods and analysis of egg phenotypes to determine maternal identity of common cuckoo, Cuculus canorus, eggs and chicks found in the nests of four species of Acrocephalus warblers in consecutive years. The median size of a cuckoo female laying area (calculated as a minimum convex polygon) was correlated negatively with the density of host nests and positively with the number of eggs assigned to a particular female. Cuckoo female laying areas overlapped to a large extent and their size and location did not change between years. Cuckoo females preferentially parasitized host nests located close to their previously parasitized nests and were mostly host specific except for two that parasitized two host species. Future studies should focus on sympatric host and parasite communities with variable densities across different brood-parasitic systems to investigate how population density of hosts affects fitness and evolution of brood parasites. For instance, it remains unknown whether female parasites moving to new sites need to meet a threshold density of a potential host. In addition, young females may be more limited in their egg laying, particularly with respect to the activity of other parasites and hosts, than older females.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Acrocephalus warbler, egg-laying territory, host selection, maternity, minimum convex polygon, spatial analysis
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 01 Jul 2021 15:25
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2021 15:25
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/30494

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