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Spotless starlings prefer spotless eggs [dataset]

AuthorsAzcárate-García, Manuel; Díaz-Lora, Silvia; Tomás, Gustavo CSIC ORCID; Soler, Juan José CSIC ORCID
KeywordsCarnus hemapterus
Eggshell spottiness
Host-selection mechanisms
Intraspecific nest parasitism
Sturnus unicolor
Issue Date2-Apr-2020
CitationAzcárate-García, Manuel; Díaz-Lora, Silvia; Tomás, Gustavo; Soler, Juan José; 2020; Spotless starlings prefer spotless eggs [dataset]; DIGITAL.CSIC; http://dx.doi.org/10.20350/digitalCSIC/12504
AbstractAvian brood parasites are expected to select host nests according to characteristics that maximize offspring fitness, such as reduced probability of ectoparasitism. Spotless starlings (Sturnus unicolor) lay immaculate blue eggs that sometimes become brownish- spotted due to the activity of the ectoparasitic fly Carnus hemapterus on incubating birds. Therefore, conspecific parasitic females should adaptively avoid nests with spotted eggshells for parasitism. Here, we manipulated perceived risk of ectoparasitism by painting the eggs with either brown spots (similar to those due to ectoparasite activity), or blue spots. A third group of nests was maintained with immaculate eggshells. Nests with non-spotted eggshells showed the highest rate of brood parasitism, while nests with brownish or bluish spots on the eggshells were parasitized at a similar lower rate. These results suggest that brood parasitic females use the presence of spots on the eggshells in their selection of host nests. This study adds to the scarce evidence showing that brood parasitic birds select host nests with low risk of ectoparasitism and demonstrates that colour patterns of the eggshell (i.e. spottiness) of their potential hosts represent a major cue employed to appraise risk of ectoparasitism
ReferencesAzcárate-García, Manuel ; Díaz-Lora, Silvia; Tomás, Gustavo; Soler, Juan José. Spotless starlings prefer spotless eggs: conspecific brood parasites cue on eggshell spottiness to avoid ectoparasites. Animal behaviour (2020)
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