Cuckoos versus hosts in insects and birds: adaptations, counter‐adaptations and outcomes

  title={Cuckoos versus hosts in insects and birds: adaptations, counter‐adaptations and outcomes},
  author={Rebecca M. Kilner and Naomi E. Langmore},
  journal={Biological Reviews},
Avian parents and social insect colonies are victimized by interspecific brood parasites—cheats that procure costly care for their dependent offspring by leaving them in another species' nursery. Birds and insects defend themselves from attack by brood parasites; their defences in turn select counter‐strategies in the parasite, thus setting in motion antagonistic co‐evolution between the two parties. Despite their considerable taxonomic disparity, here we show striking parallels in the way that… 
Macroevolutionary outcomes of coevolution between avian brood parasites and their hosts
This thesis explores the effects of brood parasitism on macroevolutionary patterns in both hosts and parasites and investigates why one type of defence, egg rejection, evolves in some host species and not in others.
Ecology and Evolution of Cuckoo Bumble Bees
Abstract Most social insect lineages contain socially parasitic cheater species that, rather than produce their own workers, infiltrate the nests of closely related social species and force the hosts
The evolution of acceptance and tolerance in hosts of avian brood parasites
The interactions between brood parasites and their hosts provide a highly tractable system for studying the evolution of tolerance, and studies of host defences against brood parasites should investigate both resistance and tolerance.
Social integration of macroparasites in ant societies: ultimate and proximate mechanisms
It is demonstrated for the first time that ant parasites are able to acquire mimetic compounds from their host, and the degree of dependency on chemical mimicry to achieve social integration differed considerably between the two parasites.
Brood Parasitism in Birds: A Coevolutionary Point of View
The traditional model of coevolution between brood parasites and their hosts is presented, but it is also incorporated to incorporate new discoveries reported during the last two decades, which, frequently, do not support important predictions ofCoevolutionary theory.
Colour, vision and coevolution in avian brood parasitism
  • M. Stoddard, M. Hauber
  • Biology
    Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • 2017
Vision-based adaptations that arise in parasite–host interactions are reviewed, emphasizing that these adaptations can be visual/sensory, cognitive or phenotypic in nature and highlighting recent breakthroughs in chemistry, genomics, neuroscience and computer vision.
Coevolutionary arms race between a specialist brood parasite, the Screaming Cowbird, and its host, the Grayish Baywing
The main results of a long-term study on the costs of Screaming Cowbird parasitism on the Grayish Baywing’s reproductive success are summarized and how these costs have favored reciprocal adaptations and counter-adaptations at each stage of the nesting cycle.
Egg recognition and social parasitism in Formica ants
Investigating whether workers of the host species can mitigate the costs imposed on them by invading parasite queens by recognizing and selectively removing eggs laid by these queens shows that workers of both host species discriminate between the two types of eggs in favour of con-colonial eggs.
Coevolution is linked with phenotypic diversification but not speciation in avian brood parasites
This work provides the first evidence that the evolution of brood parasitic behaviour may affect rates of evolution in morphological traits associated with parasitism, and finds that egg size and the colour and pattern of plumage have evolved up to nine times faster in parasitic than in non-parasitic cuckoos.
Brood parasitism in eusocial insects (Hymenoptera): role of host geographical range size and phylogeny
This work looks at commonalities among social insect species that are victims of brood parasites, and uses phylogenetic data and information on geographical range size to predict which species are most probably to fall victims to brood parasites in the future.


An obligate brood parasite trapped in the intraspecific arms race of its hosts
It is shown that mismatches in adaptation of interacting species—an obligate brood parasitic duck and each of its two main hosts—are best explained by the evolutionary dynamics within the host species.
Brood exchange experiments and chemical analyses shed light on slave rebellion in ants
Investigation of the acceptance of host and parasite pupae by Temnothorax workers in parasitized and unparasitized colonies found parasite pupae survived better when transferred to sympatric host colonies than to allopatric ones, possibly indicating local adaptation in the parasite P. americanus.
A chemical level in the coevolutionary arms race between an ant social parasite and its hosts
It is shown that in behavioural aggression trials, host colonies could indeed discriminate between invading slaves, which commonly accompany slavemakers on raids, and free‐living conspecifics, presumably to reduce the costs of defence.
Egg rejection in a passerine bird: size does matter
Examination of egg discrimination behaviour in the yellow-browed leaf warbler, Phylloscopus humei, a presumed former host of parasitic cuckoos, shows how discrimination ability has become very strong, making it a difficult strategy for a cuckoo to defeat.
Cuckoos and parasitic ants: Interspecific brood parasitism as an evolutionary arms race.
Co-evolutionary dynamics of egg appearance in avian brood parasitism
The model analyses show that a conventional view of an arms race - 'parasites chasing their hosts escaping from the parasites' is realized in the early stage of the dynamics, but the distributions of egg appearance finally converge to discrete point-distributions (polymorphism) even when any continuous distributions are used as the initial state.
Evicting cuckoo nestlings from the nest: a new anti-parasitism behaviour
A previously unknown anti-parasitism behaviour in the large-billed Gerygone, which is a host species of the little bronze-cuckoo, a host-evicting brood parasite, suggests that the evolutionary pathway may be quite different from those of previously studied cuckoo–host systems.
Host propagation permits extreme local adaptation in a social parasite of ants.
To counter destabilizing effects on the host, Microdon manipulates the social dynamics of F. lemani by feeding selectively on ant eggs and small larvae, which causes surviving larvae to switch development into queens, thus propagating the vulnerable local genotype and compensating for damage to the host colonies.
To eject or to abandon? Life history traits of hosts and parasites interact to influence the fitness payoffs of alternative anti‐parasite strategies
Estimated fitness differences based on life history trait variation provide new insights for the consistent differences observed in the anti‐parasite rejection strategies between many cuckoo‐ and cowbird‐hosts.