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The evolution of clutch size in hosts of avian brood parasites


Medina, Iliana; Langmore, Naomi E; Lanfear, Robert; Kokko, Hanna (2017). The evolution of clutch size in hosts of avian brood parasites. The American Naturalist, 190(5):112-123.

Abstract

Coevolution with avian brood parasites shapes a range of traits in their hosts, including morphology, behavior, and breeding systems. Here we explore whether brood parasitism is also associated with the evolution of host clutch size. Several studies have proposed that hosts of highly virulent parasites could decrease the costs of parasitism by evolving a smaller clutch size, because hosts with smaller clutches will lose fewer progeny when their clutch is parasitized. We describe a model of the evolution of clutch size, which challenges this logic and shows instead that an increase in clutch size (or no change) should evolve in hosts. We test this prediction using a broad-scale comparative analysis to ask whether there are differences in clutch size within hosts and between hosts and nonhosts. Consistent with our model, this analysis revealed that host species do not have smaller clutches and that hosts that incur larger costs from raising a parasite lay larger clutches. We suggest that brood parasitism might be an influential factor in clutch-size evolution and could potentially select for the evolution of larger clutches in host species.

Abstract

Coevolution with avian brood parasites shapes a range of traits in their hosts, including morphology, behavior, and breeding systems. Here we explore whether brood parasitism is also associated with the evolution of host clutch size. Several studies have proposed that hosts of highly virulent parasites could decrease the costs of parasitism by evolving a smaller clutch size, because hosts with smaller clutches will lose fewer progeny when their clutch is parasitized. We describe a model of the evolution of clutch size, which challenges this logic and shows instead that an increase in clutch size (or no change) should evolve in hosts. We test this prediction using a broad-scale comparative analysis to ask whether there are differences in clutch size within hosts and between hosts and nonhosts. Consistent with our model, this analysis revealed that host species do not have smaller clutches and that hosts that incur larger costs from raising a parasite lay larger clutches. We suggest that brood parasitism might be an influential factor in clutch-size evolution and could potentially select for the evolution of larger clutches in host species.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:12 April 2017
Deposited On:17 Jan 2018 19:03
Last Modified:01 Sep 2018 00:03
Publisher:University of Chicago Press
ISSN:0003-0147
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1086/693778
PubMed ID:29053356

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