Data from: Egg mimicry by the pacific koel: mimicry of one host facilitates exploitation of other hosts with similar egg types
Abernathy, Virginia E.; Troscianko, Jolyon; Langmore, Naomi E. (2017), Data from: Egg mimicry by the pacific koel: mimicry of one host facilitates exploitation of other hosts with similar egg types, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.mp0df
When brood parasites exploit multiple host species, egg rejection by hosts may select for the evolution of host-specific races, where each race mimics a particular host’s egg type. However, some brood parasites that exploit multiple hosts with the ability to reject foreign eggs appear to have only a single egg type. In these cases, it is unclear how the parasite egg escapes detection by its hosts. Three possible explanations are: (i) host-specific races are present, but differences in egg morphology are difficult for the human eye to detect; (ii) the brood parasite evolves a single egg type that is intermediate in appearance between the eggs of its hosts; (iii) or the parasite evolves mimicry of one of its hosts, which subsequently allows it to exploit other species with similar egg morphology. Here we test these possibilities by quantifying parameters of egg appearance of the brood-parasitic Pacific Koel (Eudynamys orientalis) and seven of its hosts. Koel eggs laid in the nests of different hosts did not show significant differences in colour or pattern, suggesting that koels have not evolved host-specific races. Koel eggs were similar in colour, luminance and pattern to the majority of hosts, but were significantly more similar in colour and luminance to one of the major hosts than to two other major hosts, supporting hypothesis (iii). Our findings suggest that mimicry of one host can allow a brood parasite to exploit new hosts with similar egg morphologies, which could inhibit the evolution of host defences in naïve hosts.