Chinese Birds
Chinese Birds 2013, 4(1) 39-50 DOI:   10.5122/cbirds.2013.0002  ISSN: 1674-7674 CN: 11-5870/Q

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Batesian mimicry
brood parasitism
phylogenetic analysis
plumage morph
Nicholas B. DAVIES
Article by Rose THOROGOOD
Article by Nicholas B. DAVIES

Hawk mimicry and the evolution of polymorphic cuckoos

Rose THOROGOOD *, Nicholas B. DAVIES

Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, U.K.


The resemblance of some parasitic cuckoos to Accipiter hawks has been known since ancient times. Recent experiments show that the hawk-like features of Common Cuckoos (Cuculus canorus) facilitate access to Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus) host nests. However, social information alerts hosts to see through the cuckoo’s mimetic disguise. In turn, this has promoted the evolution of a cuckoo polymorphism to thwart host recognition. Here we show by comparative analyses that parasitic cuckoos with hawk-like features (yellow eyes, barred underparts, yellow legs) are more likely to be polymorphic (29% of species) than those without (8% of species). Phylogenetic analyses confirm correlated evolution of hawk-like features and cuckoo polymorphism. We suggest that mimicry dynamics are particularly likely to promote the evolution of various guises in parasitic cuckoos to beat host defences.

Keywords Batesian mimicry   brood parasitism   phylogenetic analysis   plumage morph   polymorphism  
Received 2012-12-11 Revised 2013-01-12 Online:  
DOI: 10.5122/cbirds.2013.0002
Corresponding Authors: Rose Thorogood
About author:

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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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