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Cuckoos that care: conspecific brood parasitism in subsocial wasps

Citation

Field, Jeremy; Savill, Charlie; Foster, William (2022), Cuckoos that care: conspecific brood parasitism in subsocial wasps, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.rn8pk0pcb

Abstract

Hosts and brood parasites are a classic example of evolutionary conflict. Parasites lay eggs in foreign nests but typically provide no further offspring care, imposing costs on hosts. In the subsocial wasp Ammophila pubescens, eggs were often replaced by unrelated foreign females, and hosts could respond by substituting new eggs of their own. Remarkably, foreign females usually provisioned the offspring in host nests, often while hosts were also provisioning. We used field data to investigate why foreign females provision and to understand the basis of interactions. We found that foreign females would not increase their fitness payoffs by using the typical brood parasite strategy of not provisioning their offspring. Females using the typical strategy would benefit when hosts provisioned in their stead, but their offspring would starve when hosts failed to provision. Although some hosts obtained positive payoffs when foreign females mistakenly provisioned their offspring, on average utilizing a foreign nest represents parasitism: hosts pay costs while foreign females benefit. Using a novel method, we show that foreign females are winning the evolutionary conflict, mainly because hosts usually fail to reject their eggs. Selection should favour better discrimination of foreign offspring, potentially leading to repeated cycles of costly egg replacement. 

Usage Notes

All datasets & R code required to reproduce analyses reported in the associated paper have been uploaded to Dryad.

The 'README_Field_et_al_2022' file contains all necessary information on the datasets, methods & R code required to reproduce analyses reported in the associated paper.