Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2440/72018
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Type: Journal article
Title: A shared chemical basis of avian host-parasite egg colour mimicry
Author: Igic, B.
Cassey, P.
Grim, T.
Greenwood, D.
Moskat, C.
Rutila, J.
Hauber, M.
Citation: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B-Biological Sciences, 2012; 279(1731):1068-1076
Publisher: Royal Soc London
Issue Date: 2012
ISSN: 0962-8452
1471-2970
Statement of
Responsibility: 
Branislav Igic, Phillip Cassey, Tomáš Grim, David R. Greenwood, Csaba Moskát, Jarkko Rutila and Mark E. Hauber
Abstract: Avian brood parasites lay their eggs in other birds’ nests and impose considerable fitness costs on their hosts. Historically and scientifically, the best studied example of circumventing host defences is the mimicry of host eggshell colour by the common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus). Yet the chemical basis of eggshell colour similarity, which impacts hosts’ tolerance towards parasitic eggs, remains unknown. We tested the alternative scenarios that (i) cuckoos replicate host egg pigment chemistry, or (ii) cuckoos use alternative mechanisms to produce a similar perceptual effect to mimic host egg appearance. In parallel with patterns of similarity in avian-perceived colour mimicry, the concentrations of the two key eggshell pigments, biliverdin and protoporphyrin, were most similar between the cuckoo host-races and their respective hosts. Thus, the chemical basis of avian host–parasite egg colour mimicry is evolutionarily conserved, but also intraspecifically flexible. These analyses of pigment composition reveal a novel proximate dimension of coevolutionary interactions between avian brood parasites and hosts, and imply that alternative phenotypes may arise by the modifications of already existing biochemical and physiological mechanisms and pathways.
Keywords: Eggshell coloration; host–parasite similarity; mass spectrometry
Rights: © 2011 The Royal Society
RMID: 0020116722
DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2011.1718
Appears in Collections:Earth and Environmental Sciences publications
Environment Institute Leaders publications

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