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Keywords:

  • brown-headed cowbird;
  • brood parasite;
  • host races;
  • mtDNA;
  • microsatellite DNA markers

Ecological and behavioural data suggest that female brood parasitic brown-headed cowbirds Molothrus ater are host generalists; this predicts that there should be no genetically differentiated host races within cowbird populations. We tested this hypothesis by comparing differentiation in two rapidly evolving DNA markers (mtDNA control region sequence and nuclear DNA microsatellite loci) among unrelated cowbird chicks raised by two ecologically distinct hosts. No differentiation was observed in either marker supporting the absence of host race hypothesis.