In contrast to African Village Weavers (Ploceus cucullatus) that are parasitized by Diederik Cuckoos (Chrysococcyx caprius), introduced weavers on Hispaniola existed without parasitism for at least 2 centuries until the arrival of the Shiny Cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis) in the 1970s. Cruz and Wiley (1989) found that Hispaniolan weavers had a lower rejection rate of foreign eggs than African populations. Subsequently, Robert and Sorci (1999) and Lahti (2005, 2006) found that acceptance of dissimilar eggs is not characteristic of the species throughout its Hispaniolan range. In 1999-2002, we studied egg rejection in Hispaniolan weavers on a broad regional scale. Rejection increased as experimental eggs became increasingly different from the host eggs. Rejection rates for mimetic eggs, different color eggs, different-spotting eggs, and cowbird eggs was 23.2%, 33.3%, 61.5%, and 85.3%, respectively, with higher rejection of cowbird eggs in areas where cowbirds were observed. Although rejection is likely to have a genetic component, the differences could be due to phenotypic plasticity. Plasticity in egg rejection may be expected, given the potential cost of rejection and the spatiotemporal distribution of cowbirds. Thus, egg rejection has not necessarily decreased in Hispaniolan weavers, but it may act in a plastic manner, increasing where cowbirds are present. ?? The Author 2008. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Society for Behavioral Ecology. All rights reserved.
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Egg rejection behavior in a population exposed to parasitism: Village Weavers on Hispaniola