Volume 40 Issue 5
Sep.  2019
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Chang-Zhang Feng, Can-Chao Yang, Wei Liang. Nest sanitation facilitates egg recognition in the common tailorbird, a plaintive cuckoo host. Zoological Research, 2019, 40(5): 466-470. doi: 10.24272/j.issn.2095-8137.2019.054
Citation: Chang-Zhang Feng, Can-Chao Yang, Wei Liang. Nest sanitation facilitates egg recognition in the common tailorbird, a plaintive cuckoo host. Zoological Research, 2019, 40(5): 466-470. doi: 10.24272/j.issn.2095-8137.2019.054

Nest sanitation facilitates egg recognition in the common tailorbird, a plaintive cuckoo host

doi: 10.24272/j.issn.2095-8137.2019.054
Funds:  the National Natural Science Foundation of China(31672303 to C.C.Y.)
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  • Corresponding author: Wei Liang
  • Received Date: 2019-04-28
  • Publish Date: 2019-09-18
  • Nest sanitation is a ubiquitous behavior in birds and functions to remove foreign objects that accidentally have fallen into their nests. In avian brood parasitism, the host’s ability to recognize and reject parasitic eggs is a specific anti-parasitic behavior. Previous studies have shown that egg recognition may have evolved from nest sanitation behavior; however, few studies have offered evidence in support of this hypothesis. In the current study, we added one real white egg and one model egg to the nests of common tailorbirds (Orthotomus sutorius), the main host of plaintive cuckoos (Cacomantis merulinus), to explore the relationship between egg recognition ability in hosts and nest sanitation behavior. Results showed that common tailorbirds rejected both non-mimetic blue model eggs and mimetic white model eggs at a similar rate of 100%, but only rejected 16.1% of mimetic real white eggs. The egg rejection behavior of common tailorbirds towards both real and model eggs was consistent. However, when both blue model eggs and real white eggs were simultaneously added to their nests, the probability of rejecting the mimetic real white egg increased to 50%. The addition of blue model eggs not only increased the occurrence of nest sanitation behavior but also increased the ability to recognize and reject parasitic eggs. This suggests that nest sanitation may facilitate egg rejection in common tailorbird hosts.
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