Keeping eggs warm: thermal and developmental advantages for parasitic cuckoos of laying unusually thick-shelled eggs

Keeping eggs warm: thermal and developmental advantages for parasitic cuckoos of laying unusually... Obligate brood parasites have evolved unusually thick-shelled eggs, which are hypothesized to possess a variety of functions such as resistance to puncture ejection by their hosts. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that obligate brood parasites lay unusually thick-shelled eggs to retain more heat for the developing embryo and thus contribute to early hatching of parasite eggs. By doing so, we used an infrared thermal imaging system as a non-invasive method to quantify the temperature of eggshells of common cuckoos (Cuculus canorus) and their Oriental reed warbler (Acrocephalus orientalis) hosts in an experiment that artificially altered the duration of incubation. Our results showed that cuckoo eggshells had higher temperature than host eggs during incubation, but also less fluctuations in temperature during incubation disturbance. Therefore, there was a thermal and hence a developmental advantage for brood parasitic cuckoos of laying thick-shelled eggs, providing another possible explanation for the unusually thick-shelled eggs of obligate brood parasites and earlier hatching of cuckoo eggs compared to those of the host. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Naturwissenschaften Springer Journals

Keeping eggs warm: thermal and developmental advantages for parasitic cuckoos of laying unusually thick-shelled eggs

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2017 by Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature
Subject
Life Sciences; Life Sciences, general; Environment, general
ISSN
0028-1042
eISSN
1432-1904
D.O.I.
10.1007/s00114-017-1532-y
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Obligate brood parasites have evolved unusually thick-shelled eggs, which are hypothesized to possess a variety of functions such as resistance to puncture ejection by their hosts. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that obligate brood parasites lay unusually thick-shelled eggs to retain more heat for the developing embryo and thus contribute to early hatching of parasite eggs. By doing so, we used an infrared thermal imaging system as a non-invasive method to quantify the temperature of eggshells of common cuckoos (Cuculus canorus) and their Oriental reed warbler (Acrocephalus orientalis) hosts in an experiment that artificially altered the duration of incubation. Our results showed that cuckoo eggshells had higher temperature than host eggs during incubation, but also less fluctuations in temperature during incubation disturbance. Therefore, there was a thermal and hence a developmental advantage for brood parasitic cuckoos of laying thick-shelled eggs, providing another possible explanation for the unusually thick-shelled eggs of obligate brood parasites and earlier hatching of cuckoo eggs compared to those of the host.

Journal

NaturwissenschaftenSpringer Journals

Published: Jan 2, 2018

References

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