Eggshell characteristics and yolk composition in the common cuckoo Cuculus canorus: are they adapted to brood parasitism?

@article{Hargitai2010EggshellCA,
  title={Eggshell characteristics and yolk composition in the common cuckoo Cuculus canorus: are they adapted to brood parasitism?},
  author={Rita Hargitai and Csaba Mosk{\'a}t and Mikl{\'o}s B{\'a}n and Diego Gil and Isabel L{\'o}pez-Rull and Emese Solymos},
  journal={Journal of Avian Biology},
  year={2010},
  volume={41},
  pages={177-185}
}
The developmental rate of cuckoo embryos and their hatching size is greater than that of host species, which may require more nutrient resources in the egg and more intensive gas exchange during development. In the present study, we compared various egg characteristics of a brood parasite, the common cuckoo Cuculus canorus, and its frequent host, the great reed warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus. As maternally-derived testosterone is known to enhance growth rate of embryos and hatchlings, cuckoo… 

Figures and Tables from this paper

A comparison of egg yolk lipid constituents between parasitic Common Cuckoos and their hosts
TLDR
A potential role of yolk lipid composition in facilitating either concentration or total yolk mass alone to compare maternal investment across taxa in comparative studies is suggested and the need for further research in this area is advocated.
How strong are eggs of the common cuckoo Cuculus canorus?
TLDR
Analysis of characteristics of a sample of freshly laid eggs of the common cuckoo with two of its major hosts, the reed warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus and great reed Warbler, and of species with known puncture resistant eggs found that in puncture resistance tests cuckoos eggs tolerated on average 231 g and this trait probably represents an adaptation for a brood parasitic life style.
Common cuckoos (Cuculus canorus) affect the bacterial diversity of the eggshells of their great reed warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) hosts
TLDR
The results on the cuckoo-great reed warbler relationship supported the idea that brood parasites may change bacterial microbiota in the host nest, and how bacterial communities of cucksoo eggshells may vary by host-specific races (gentes) of cuckoos was revealed.
Brood parasite and host eggshells undergo similar levels of decalcification during embryonic development
TLDR
It is found that cuckoo eggshells undergo similar degrees of decalcification during embryonic development as the thinner egg shells of a host that lays similarly sized eggs, the great reed warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus, supporting the predicted trade-off between the benefits of laying puncture-resistant eggs and the physiological costs associated with hatching from thick shelled eggs.
Keeping eggs warm: thermal and developmental advantages for parasitic cuckoos of laying unusually thick-shelled eggs
TLDR
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.
When should Common Cuckoos Cuculus canorus lay their eggs in host nests?
TLDR
Most Cuckoo eggs are laid prior to the onset of host incubation and this, together with other adaptive mechanisms, ensures the prior hatching of Cuckoos, who lose the advantage ofPrior hatching in approximately 30% of nests.
Alternative mechanisms of increased eggshell hardness of avian brood parasites relative to host species
TLDR
Eggshell characteristics did not differ between parasite eggs sampled from different host nests in distant geographical sites, suggesting an evolutionarily shared microstructural mechanism of stronger parasite eggshells across diverse host-races of brood parasitic cuckoos.
Effects of environmental conditions on the egg mass, yolk antioxidant level, eggshell thickness and eggshell spotting patterns of Great Tits (Parus major)
TLDR
The results suggest that Great Tits deposit more of the potentially harmful pro-oxidant protoporphyrin pigment into the eggshell under unfavourable environmental conditions.
Internal incubation and early hatching in brood parasitic birds
TLDR
Comparison with the zebra finch shows that internal incubation in the two cuckoos and honeyguide advances hatching by 31 h, a figure consistent with the difference between the expected and the observed duration of incubations in the European cuckoo predicted from egg mass.
Patterns of egg yolk antioxidant co-variation in an avian brood parasite–host system
TLDR
It is found that whilst red-winged blackbird clutches parasitised by cowbirds did not differ in the pattern of antioxidant deposition compared to non-parasitised clutches, levels of vitamin E deposited in cowbird eggs were closely matched to that of the individual host clutch in which cowbirds laid their egg.
...
...

References

SHOWING 1-10 OF 97 REFERENCES
Common cuckoos (Cuculus canorus) lay eggs with larger yolk but not more testosterone than their great reed warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) hosts
TLDR
Relatively larger yolks of cuckoo eggs indicates differential maternal investment strategies by parasites as more yolk may contain additional macronutrients to increase the vigour of parasitic young during the early days of its life and/or to enhance its begging display to elicit care from foster parents.
Does the cuckoo benefit from laying unusually strong eggs?
How to hatch from an egg of great structural strength. A study of the Common Cuckoo
TLDR
It is suggested that hatching is more difficult for a Cuckoo than for a Great Reed Warbler and that Cuckoos possess several mechanisms to overcome the problems of hatching from a structurally strong egg.
Egg‐morphs and host preference in the common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus): an analysis of cuckoo and host eggs from European museum collections
TLDR
Support is provided for the ‘nest site hypothesis’ which states that each cuckoo female parasitizes a group of host species with similar eggs or nest sites, which indicates that cuckoos also parasitize several species whose nest sites are similar to those of their main host.
Is greater eggshell density an alternative mechanism by which parasitic cuckoos increase the strength of their eggs?
TLDR
Comparisons to two control groups demonstrated that the parasitic cuckoos have eggshells of significantly higher density than would be expected for their size, supporting the hypothesis that the higher eggshell density is an alternative mechanism by which some cuckoo increase the strength of their eggs.
The evolution of egg size in the brood parasitic cuckoos
TLDR
It is not clear that egg size is related to the need to give the cuckoo chick sufficient strength for ejection, but closer size-matching of host eggs in Chrysococcyx may reflect the following: selection to reduce adult body mass to facilitate entry through small domed nest holes to lay, and less need for a large egg, because longer incubation periods in dome-nesting hosts allow the young cuckoos more time to grow before it need eject host eggs.
Environmental conditions influence egg color of reed warblers Acrocephalus scirpaceus and their parasite, the common cuckoo Cuculus canorus
TLDR
Support is provided for the existence of an environmental component on bird egg coloration and environmental factors may potentially affect the outcome of important features of the arms race between cuckoos and reed warblers.
Eggshell strength of an obligate brood parasite: a test of the puncture resistance hypothesis
TLDR
There was no evidence that egg damage was associated with cuckoo egg laying, and some support for the puncture resistance hypothesis for the occurrence of thick-shelled eggs in common cuckoos Cuculus canorus.
Carotenoids in the egg yolks of collared flycatchers (Ficedula albicollis) in relation to parental quality, environmental factors and laying order
TLDR
It was found that carotenoid concentration was positively associated with caterpillar supply at the time of egg formation, which suggests a proximate constraint of carOTenoid availability on yolk composition and suggests that collared flycatchers pursue a compensatory, “brood survival” strategy.
Responses of great reed warblers Acrocephalus arundinaceus to experimental brood parasitism: the effects of a cuckoo Cuculus canorus dummy and egg mimicry
TLDR
Great reed warblers in the authors' heavily parasitised population are capable of detecting brood parasitism in their clutch by identifying the parasitic egg, and the efficiency of this identification depends mainly on the mimicry of the foreign egg.
...
...