An experimental test of host’s life history traits modulation in response to cuckoo parasitism risk
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AuthorExpósito Granados, Mónica; Parejo, Deseada; Martínez Suárez, Juan Gabriel; Sánchez Tójar, Alfredo; Precioso, Marta; Molina-Morales, Mercedes; Avilés, Jesús M.
Expósito-Granados M, Parejo D, Martínez JG, Sánchez-Tójar A, Precioso M, Molina-Morales M, et al. (2017) An experimental test of host’s life history traits modulation in response to cuckoo parasitism risk. PLoS ONE 12(6): e0179206.
SponsorshipThis work was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science/FEDER (Projects CGL2011-27561/BOS and CGL2014-56769-P to D. P. and J.M.A.). D.P. was supported by the Government of Extremadura while writing (contract number TA13002). M.E.G. was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (grant number BES-2012-051898).T
Hosts can counteract parasites through defences based on resistance and/or tolerance. The mechanistic basis of tolerance, which involve defensive mechanisms minimizing parasite damage after a successful parasitic attack, remains poorly explored in the study of cuckoo-host interactions. Here, we experimentally explore the possibility that the risk of great spotted cuckoo Clamator glandarius parasitism may induce tolerance defences in magpie Pica pica hosts through plasticity in life-history traits. We predict that magpies exposed to auditory cues indicating high parasitism risk will more likely exhibit resistance and/or modify their life-history traits to minimize parasitism costs (i.e. tolerance) compared to magpies under low parasitism risk. We found that manipulating the perceived parasitism risk did not affect host resistance (i.e. rejection of parasitic eggs) nor host life-history traits. Unexpectedly, host's egg volume increased over the season in nests exposed to auditory cues of control non-harmful hoopoes Upupa epops. Our results do not provide support for inducible defences (either based on resistance or tolerance) in response to risk of parasitism in magpie hosts. Even so, we encourage studying plastic expression of breeding strategies in response to risk of cuckoo parasitism to achieve a better understanding of the mechanistic basis of tolerance defences.