Chinese Birds
Chinese Birds 2013, 4(1) 31-38 DOI:   10.5122/cbirds.2013.0005  ISSN: 1674-7674 CN: 11-5870/Q

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Keywords
brood parasitism
cowbird
forest fragmentation
geographic mosaic theory of coevolution
nest predation
source-sink metapopulation dynamics
Authors
Scott ROBINSON
Wendy SCHELSKY
Jeffrey HOOVER
PubMed
Article by Scott ROBINSON
Article by Wendy SCHELSKY
Article by Jeffrey HOOVER

Does landscape structure contribute to the long-term maintenance of generalized parasitism in cowbirds?

Scott ROBINSON 1,*, Wendy SCHELSKY 2, Jeffrey HOOVER 2

1 Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Museum Road at Newell Drive, Gainesville, Florida, United States 2 Illinois Natural History Survey, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois, 1816 South Oak Street, Champaign, Illinois, United States

Abstract

Unlike most brood parasites, several species of cowbird (Molothrus) are generalists that parasitize multiple host species across their range and within the same communities; likewise, there is little evidence that individuals within a population specialize on host species. This situation has variously been attributed to the recency of cowbird evolution (the “evolutionary lag” hypothesis) or to hidden costs of rejection by hosts (the “equilibrium” hypothesis). Both hypotheses have some support as cowbirds are indeed a relatively young clade compared with more specialized cuckoos and cowbirds are capable of sophisticated behaviors such as retaliation against rejection (“mafia” behaviors) that would select for acceptance of cowbird eggs. Nevertheless, many species in the Americas have evolved specialized defenses against cowbird parasitism, almost all of which live in more open habitats (e. g., grasslands, shrublands, riparian strips), which indicates that coevolutionary processes can operate in ways that select for host defenses in spite of cowbird counterdefenses. We propose that the structure of landscapes in North America may explain why forest-nesting birds lack defenses against parasitism and reinforce the long-term maintenance of generalized brood parasitism in cowbirds. Because cowbirds require open habitats in which to feed, they are rare or absent in large forest tracts, which dominate much of the forest cover of the Americas. These tracts act as “source habitats” that produce surplus young that recolonize populations in smaller, fragmented forest patches in which rates of both cowbird parasitism and nest predation are very high (“sink” habitats). Evolution of anti-parasite adaptations would be very slow in this situation because most hosts are produced in areas where there is little or no cowbird parasitism. In addition, the interplay of host breeding dispersal, source-sink metapopulation dynamics, and fragmented forest habitat could further deter the evolution of host defenses against parasitism. Therefore, as long as large forest tracts remain widespread in North America, most forest birds will likely continue to lack defenses against cowbird parasitism, guaranteeing a steady supply of naïve hosts in forest habitats, even in fragmented landscapes. This situation will, in turn, favor host generalist cowbirds that actively avoid more open habitats in favor of parasitizing forest bird communities. These forest communities may also act as source populations for cowbirds, which might pump surplus generalist cowbirds into more open habitats further slowing the coevolutionary process. As long as large forest tracts are a common part of the landscape, generalist parasitism may persist indefinitely.

Keywords brood parasitism   cowbird   forest fragmentation   geographic mosaic theory of coevolution   nest predation   source-sink metapopulation dynamics  
Received 2012-12-25 Revised 2013-02-24 Online:  
DOI: 10.5122/cbirds.2013.0005
Corresponding Authors: Scott Robinson
Email: srobinson@flmnh.ufl.edu
About author:

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78.Fengshan LI 1, Mary Anne Bishop 1, Tsamchu Drolma 2.Power line strikes by Black-necked Cranes and Bar-headed Geese in Tibet Autonomous Region[J]. Chinese Birds, 2011,2(4): 167-173
79.Wondimagegnehu TEKALIGN 1, Afework BEKELE 2.Status of and threats to the Black-winged Lovebird (Agapornis taranta) in Entoto Natural Park and Bole Sub-City, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia[J]. Chinese Birds, 2011,2(4): 174-182
80.V. GOKULA.An ethogram of Spot-billed Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis)[J]. Chinese Birds, 2011,2(4): 183-192
81.Ramachandran SANTHANAKRISHNAN, Abdul Hameed MOHAMED SAMSOOR ALI, Uthirapathi ANBARASAN.Food habits and prey spectrum of Spotted Owlet (Athene brama) in Madurai District, Tamil Nadu, southern India[J]. Chinese Birds, 2011,2(4): 193-199
82.Yiqun WU 1, Naifa LIU 2.Blue-eared Pheasant: a forest bird endemic to China[J]. Chinese Birds, 2011,2(4): 200-205
83.Yupin QIN 1, Fenqi HE 2.Latest evidence of the existence of the northern flock of the Chinese Crested Tern (Sterna bernsteini)[J]. Chinese Birds, 2011,2(4): 206-207
84. Johann H. VAN Niekerk.Observations of Red-billed Spurfowl (Pternistis adspersus) in the arid Molopo Nature Reserve, North West Province, South Africa[J]. Chinese Birds, 2011,2(3): 117-124
85.Jianqiang LI, Yanyun ZHANG, Zhengwang ZHANG.High frequency components in avian vocalizations[J]. Chinese Birds, 2011,2(3): 125-131
86.Canwei XIA, Rong HUANG, Changchun WEI, Pinwen NIE, Yanyun ZHANG.Individual identification on the basis of the songs of the Asian Stubtail (Urosphena squameiceps)  [J]. Chinese Birds, 2011,2(3): 132-139
87. Mariya V. SIVAY, Nikita Y. SILKO, Kirill A. SHARSHOV, Aleksander V. PROKUDIN, Laixing LI, Min YANG, Sheng CAO, Aleksander M. SHESTOPALOV .The role of wild goose (Anser) populations of Russia and the Tibet Plateau in the spread of the avian influenza virus[J]. Chinese Birds, 2011,2(3): 140-146
88.Zhongqiu LI.Suitable distance to observe Red-crowned Cranes: a note on the observer effect[J]. Chinese Birds, 2011,2(3): 147-151
89.Lin CHEN, Fenqi HE.Are they hybrids of Sterna bergii × Sterna bernsteini?[J]. Chinese Birds, 2011,2(3): 152-156
90.Xiaochun MA, Junfeng GUO, Xiaoping YU.Himalayan Monal (Lophophorus impejanus): distribution, habitat and population status in Tibet, China[J]. Chinese Birds, 2011,2(3): 157-162
91. Lu DONG, Wenhui NIU, Zhenting ZHOU, Yu-Cheng HSU, Yue SUN, Huw LLOYD, Yanyun ZHANG.Assessing the genetic integrity of captive and wild populations for reintroduction programs: the case of Cabot’s Tragopan in China[J]. Chinese Birds, 2011,2(2): 65-71
92.Fangjun LIN, Pingping JIANG, Ping DING.Genetic evidence for male-biased dispersal in Elliot’s Pheasant (Syrmaticus ellioti) in China[J]. Chinese Birds, 2011,2(2): 72-78
93. Lubna ALI, Noor-un-nisa , Syed Shahid SHAUKAT, Rafia Rehana GHAZI.Sex and age classes of prey items (rats/mice) in the diet of the Barn Owl (Tyto alba) in Sindh, Pakistan[J]. Chinese Birds, 2011,2(2): 79-86
94.Kazuto KAWAKAMI, Masaki FUJITA, Motohiro HASEGAWA, Hiroshi MAKIHARA.Dietary characteristics of the Malayan Night Heron (Gorsachius melanolophus) in the Yaeyama Islands, southern Japan[J]. Chinese Birds, 2011,2(2): 87-93
95.Yu JING, Nan Lü, Yun FANG, Yue-Hua SUN.Home range, population density, and habitat utilization of the Sichuan Jay (Perisoreus internigrans)[J]. Chinese Birds, 2011,2(2): 94-100
96.V.Gokula.Breeding biology of the Spot-billed Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis) in Karaivetti Bird Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu, India[J]. Chinese Birds, 2011,2(2): 101-108
97.Ji?í Mlíkovsky.Correct name for the Asian Russet Sparrow[J]. Chinese Birds, 2011,2(2): 109-110
98.Wei LIANG, Zhengwang ZHANG.Hainan Peacock Pheasant (Polyplectron katsumatae): an endangered and rare tropical forest bird[J]. Chinese Birds, 2011,2(2): 111-116
99.Lei CAO, Mark BARTER, Meijuan ZHAO, Haoxian MENG, Yong ZHANG.A systematic scheme for monitoring waterbird populations at Shengjin Lake, China: methodology and preliminary results[J]. Chinese Birds, 2011,2(1): 1-17
100. Shuo WANG, Ying HU, Lu WANG.New ratite eggshell material from the Miocene of Inner Mongolia, China[J]. Chinese Birds, 2011,2(1): 18-26
101.Xuan ZHANG, Ning HUA, Qiang MA, Wenjie XUE, Xuesong FENG, Wei WU, Chendong TANG, Zhijun MA.Diet of Great Knots (Calidris tenuirostris) during spring stopover at Chongming Dongtan, China[J]. Chinese Birds, 2011,2(1): 27-32
102.Yun HUANG, Lizhi ZHOU .Screening and application of microsatellite markers for genetic diversity analysis of Oriental White Stork (Ciconia boyciana)[J]. Chinese Birds, 2011,2(1): 33-38
103. Zhongyong FAN, Cangsong CHEN, Shuihua CHEN, Simba CHAN, Yiwei LU.Breeding seabirds along the Zhejiang coast: diversity, distribution and conservation[J]. Chinese Birds, 2011,2(1): 39-45
104. Xiaojing LI, Yang SHI, Jiliang XU, Weidong BAO.Wintering ecology of the Black Stork (Ciconia nigra) in Beijing[J]. Chinese Birds, 2011,2(1): 46-52
105. Jiliang XU, Zhengwang ZHANG .Home range and habitat composition of male Reeves's Pheasants in an agricultural-forest plantation landscape in central China: a preliminary report[J]. Chinese Birds, 2011,2(1): 53-58
106. Ming MA.Status of the Xinjiang Ground Jay: population, breeding ecology and conservation[J]. Chinese Birds, 2011,2(1): 59-62
107. Haitao WANG, Yunlei JIANG, Wei GAO.Jankowski's Bunting (Emberiza jankowskii): current status and conservation[J]. Chinese Birds, 2011,2(1): 63-63
108.Aiwu JIANG 1,*, Yuxin NING 2.A new distribution site of the Asian Open-billed Stork (Anastomus oscitans) in southwestern China[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(4): 259-260
109. Fasheng ZOU 1,2,*, Guizhu CHEN 2, Qiongfang YANG 1.Impacts of bird abundance, activity height and light intensity on the number of birds captured by mist netting[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(4): 221-229
110. Junhua HU 1,2,3, Zhigang JIANG 2, Daode YANG 4, Huijian HU 3,*.Nest-site selection by Purple Swamphen in Haifeng, China[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(4): 230-235
111. Wei ZHOU 1,*, Ning LI 1, Zhongjian DENG 1, Qing ZHANG 1, Minghui LI 1, Xuerong WANG 2.Modeling foraging habitats of Hume's Pheasant (Syrmaticus humiae) in Dazhong Mountain, Yunnan, southwestern China[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(4): 236-243
112. Farzana PERVEEN*, Hafeez Ullah KHAN.Pressure from hunting on crane species in southern districts of northern Pakistan[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(4): 244-250
113. Haitao Wang 1, Yunlei Jiang 1,2, Wei Gao 1,*.Jankowski’s Bunting (Emberiza jankowskii): current status and conservation[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(4): 251-258
114.Xin LEI 1,2, Zuohua YIN 1, Zhenmin LIAN 2, Cungen CHEN 3, Chuanyin DAI 1, Anton KRISTIN 4, Fumin LEI.Phylogenetic relationships of some Sylviidae species based on complete mtDNA cyt b and partial COI sequence data[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(3): 175-187
115.Kuo-Lang CHANG 1, Liang CHEN 2, Jinyu LEI 3,*.Two new bird records for China[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(3): 211-214
116.Yue-Hua SUN *, Yun FANG.Chinese Grouse (Bonasa sewerzowi): its natural history, behavior and conservation[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(3): 215-220
117.Xin LU*, Dianhua KE, Xiaoyan MA, Guohong GONG, Tonglei YU.Nesting records of 20 bird species in Lhasa region, Tibet[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(3): 167-174
118.Shuping ZHANG 1,*, Guangmei ZHENG 2.Effect of urbanization on the abundance and distribution of Tree Sparrows (Passer montanus) in Beijing[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(3): 188-197
119.Wei LIANG 1, J. Y. P. WONG 2, L. C. WONG 2*, C. L. FUNG 2, Zhumei LI 3.Ardeid nesting colonies in central Guizhou, southwestern China[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(3): 198-203
120.Guogang ZHANG 1, Wei LIANG 2,*, Dongping LIU 1, Fawen QIAN 1, Yunqiu HOU 1, Wenba SU 3, Kilburn MIKE.Species abundance and conservation of coastal wintering waterbirds in Hainan Island, China[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(3): 204-210
121.Dongsheng LI 1,2, Corwin SULLIVAN 1, Zhonghe ZHOU 1, Fucheng ZHANG 1,*.Basal birds from China: a brief review[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(2): 83-96
122.Anders Pape MOLLER 1,2,*, Johannes ERRITZOE 3, Jan Tottrup NIELSEN 4.Causes of interspecific variation in susceptibility to cat preda­tion on birds [J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(2): 97-111
123.Chuanyin DAI 1,2, Kai CHEN 1,3, Ruiying ZHANG 1,2, Xiaojun YANG 4, Zuohua YIN 1, Hengjiu TIAN 5, Zhi.Molecular phylogenetic analysis among species of Paridae, Remizidae and Aegithalos based on mtDNA sequences of COI and cyt b [J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(2): 112-123
124.Wenzhen FANG*, Xiaolin CHEN, Qingxian LIN, Xiaoping ZHOU.Effect of colonial breeding of Chinese Egret (Egretta eulophotes) on the heavy metal accumulation in heronry soil[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(2): 124-131
125.Ning LI 1, Wei ZHOU 1,*, Wei LI 1, Qing ZHANG 1, Xuerong WANG 2.Comparison of roosting habitat characteristics of two sympatric pheasants during springtime at Dazhong
Mountain, southwestern China
[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(2): 132-140
126.Juan C. ALONSO *, Carlos PALACíN.The world status and population trends of the Great Bustard (Otis tarda): 2010 update[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(2): 141-147
127.Peiqi LIU 1,*, Feng LI 2, Huidong SONG 2, Qiang WANG 2, Yuwen SONG 3, Yusen LIU 3, Zhengji PIAO 4.A survey to the distribution of the Scaly-sided Merganser (Mergus squamatus) in Changbai Mountain range (China side) [J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(2): 148-155
128.Changqing DING.Crested Ibis[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(2): 156-162
129.Hangdong JIANG 1, Lin CHEN 2, Fenqi HE 3,*.Preliminary assessment on the current knowledge of the Chinese Crested Tern (Sterna bernsteini)[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(2): 163-166
130.J. H. VAN NIEKERK.Social organization of a flock of Helmeted Guineafowl (Numida meleagris) at the Krugersdorp Game Reserve, South Africa[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(1): 22-29
131.Michele PANUCCIO 1,2, Nicolantonio AGOSTINI 1,2,*.Comparison of the water-crossing behavior of Western Marsh Harriers (Circus aeruginosus) and European Honey Buzzards (Pernis apivorus) during autumn migration[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(1): 30-35
132.Hui WU, Haitao WANG, Yunlei JIANG, Fumin LEI, Wei GAO.Offspring sex ratio in Eurasian Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) with reversed sexual size dimorphism[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(1): 36-44
133.Peng LI, Ping DING, Kenneth J. FEELEY, Jingcheng ZHANG, Pingping JIANG.Patterns of species diversity and functional diversity of breeding birds in Hangzhou across an urbanization gradient[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(1): 1-8
134.Baohua WU, Tao LI, Xiaoping YU.Winter diet and digestive tract of the Golden Pheasant (Chrysolophus pictus) in the Qinling Mountains, China[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(1): 45-50
135.Manman CAO, Naifa LIU, Xiaoli WANG, Mengmeng GUAN.Genetic diversity and genetic structure of the Daurian Partridge (Perdix dauuricae) in China, assessed by microsatellite variation[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(1): 51-64
136.Ning WANG, Jianqiang LI, Yingying LIU, Zhengwang ZHANG .Improvement on molecular sex identification primers for Passeriform bird species[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(1): 65-69
137. Johannes KAMP, Maxim A. KOSHKIN, Robert D. SHELDON.Historic breeding of Sociable Lapwing (Vanellus gregarius) in Xinjiang[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(1): 70-73
138. Zuhao HUANG, Xinjun LIAO.Cross-species amplification and characterization of microsatellite DNA loci from Gallus gallus in Bambusicola thoracica[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(1): 74-76
139.Sellamuthu SOMASUNDARAM, Lalitha VIJAYAN.Foraging ecology of the globally threatened Nilgiri Wood Pigeon (Columba elphinstonii) in the Western Ghats, India[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(1): 9-21
140.Yanyun ZHANG .Cabot’s Tragopan[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(1): 77-79
141.Fenqi HE, Yongqi REN, Xiufang BAI.Preview of the No. 1148 Ramsar Site on the Ordos upland of western Inner Mongolia[J]. Chinese Birds, 2010,1(1): 80-81

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