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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10481/31185

Title: Geographic distribution of suitable hosts explains the evolution of specialized gentes in the European cuckoo Cuculus canorus
Authors: Soler Cruz, Juan José
Martín-Vivaldi, Manuel
Møller, Anders Pape
Issue Date: 2009
Abstract: Background Several types of selective forces can act to promote parasite specialization. Parasites might specialize on some suitable hosts at the cost of decreasing effectiveness when exploiting other species of hosts, and specialization can be more easily selected for in hosts that the parasites will easily find. Thus demographic characteristics of suitable hosts such as population density and its spatial consistency could be key factors predicting probability of parasite specialization and speciation. Here, we explore this hypothesis by studying the relationship between occurence of specialized races of the European cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) (i.e. gentes) and mean and coefficient of variation in population density estimated for 12 different European regions. Results The results were in accordance with the hypothesis because specialized cuckoo egg morphs were more common in suitable hosts with high population density and low variation in population density at the level of host species or genera. Conclusion We have presented evidence suggesting that population density and homogeneity of geographic distribution of hosts explain, at least partly, the evolution of specialized egg-morphs of the European cuckoo. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that resource (i.e., host) predictability explains the evolution of host races and species of parasites.
Sponsorship: The study received financial support from project CGL2007-61251/BOS – FEDER to JJS and APM and Junta de Andalucía grants to research groups RNM 340 (JJS) and RNM 341 (MMV).
Publisher: Biomed Central
Keywords: Adaptation
Biological evolution
Nesting behavior
Population density
Species specificity
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10481/31185
ISSN: 1471-2148
Rights : Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License
Citation: Soler, J.J.; Martín Vivaldi, M.; Møller, A.P. Geographic distribution of suitable hosts explains the evolution of specialized gentes in the European cuckoo Cuculus canorus. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 9: 8 (2009). [http://hdl.handle.net/10481/31185]
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