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UV reflectance as a cue in egg discrimination in two Prinia species exploited differently by brood parasites in Taiwan

Authors

  • Canchao Yang,

    1. Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Tropical Animal and Plant Ecology, College of Life Sciences, Hainan Normal University, Haikou 571158, China
    2. State Key Laboratory of Biocontrol, School of Life Sciences, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
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  • Longwu Wang,

    1. Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Tropical Animal and Plant Ecology, College of Life Sciences, Hainan Normal University, Haikou 571158, China
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  • Yu-Cheng Hsu,

    1. Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Studies, National Dong Hwa University, Hualien 97401, Taiwan
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  • Anton Antonov,

    1. Department of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway
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    • Deceased 20 May 2012.
  • Arne Moksnes,

    1. Department of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway
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  • Eivin Røskaft,

    1. Department of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway
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  • Wei Liang,

    Corresponding author
    • Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Tropical Animal and Plant Ecology, College of Life Sciences, Hainan Normal University, Haikou 571158, China
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  • Bård G. Stokke

    1. Department of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway
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Corresponding author.

Email: liangwei@hainnu.edu.cn

Abstract

Birds are capable of seeing the ultraviolet light (UV) spectrum and as a consequence have evolved UV-reflective structures with signalling functions. Avian eggs also reflect in the UV spectrum but the importance of UV egg matching in egg rejection decisions has been equivocal. Here we conducted egg rejection experiments in the congeneric and sympatrically breeding Yellow-bellied Prinia Prinia flaviventris and Plain Prinia Prinia inornata in Taiwan to assess the role of UV as a cue in egg discrimination. Yellow-bellied Prinia is a host of Oriental Cuckoo Cuculus optatus, whereas Plain Prinia is not. We coated one prinia egg in the experimental clutches with a cream containing a UV-blocking agent, while the rest of the eggs were coated with cream only. We also experimentally parasitized prinias with non-mimetic model eggs with reduced UV reflectance. Yellow-bellied Prinia and Plain Prinia rejected their own UV-blocked eggs in 18.2 and 8.3% of the experiments, respectively, and the difference was not significant. However, Yellow-bellied Prinia rejected 100% of the non-mimetic eggs, whereas the Plain Prinia rejected only 5%. Hence, UV reflectance alone is a cue in egg discrimination, but the importance of reflectance outside the UV spectrum in these two prinia species is much more responsive to selection as a consequence of brood parasitism.

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