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Worth a Thousand Words

This week’s PLoS ONE featured image is taken from a paper by Michael G. Anderson at Massey University, New Zealand, and colleagues Csaba Moskát, Miklós Bán, Tomáš Grim, Phillip Cassey and Mark E. Hauber. The article is entitled, Egg Eviction Imposes a Recoverable Cost of Virulence in Chicks of a Brood Parasite.

Hatchling common cuckoos in the process of evicting host eggs and chicks from great reed warbler nests
This image forms Figure 1 of PLoS ONE article e7725; any reuse should cite the authors and journal (photo credits from M. Honza (upper left), M. Bán (right), and C. Moskát (lower left).

The common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) is known for its broad parasitism: the laying of its eggs in the nest of a bird of another species and allowing the host parents to raise its young. Cuckoo hatchlings commonly evict the eggs and offspring of the hosts from the nest, avoiding competition for foster parental car; however, both adult cuckoos and older cuckoo chicks are really better suited to evicting the eggs and young of the host parents from the nest.

In the study, Anderson and colleagues addressed an aspect of the co-evolutionary arms race between cuckoos and their hosts by studying cuckoos that hatched in the nests of a relatively large host, the great reed warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus). The authors report that evicting host eggs from the nest does result in an initial growth cost in the cuckoo chicks but that by the time the chicks fledge, there is no difference between the amount of growth of those chicks who evicted the eggs of others and those who didn’t.

The image is taken from Figure 1 of the paper, which shows, “hatchling common cuckoos in the process of evicting host eggs and chicks from great reed warbler nests.”

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