Effects of Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis parasitism on different components of House Wren Troglodytes aedon reproductive success
Article first published online: 28 FEB 2007
Volume 149, Issue 3, pages 521–529, July 2007
How to Cite
TUERO, D. T., FIORINI, V. D. and REBOREDA, J. C. (2007), Effects of Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis parasitism on different components of House Wren Troglodytes aedon reproductive success. Ibis, 149: 521–529. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-919X.2007.00676.x
- Issue published online: 23 APR 2007
- Article first published online: 28 FEB 2007
- Received 18 February 2006; revision accepted 23 December 2006.
Avian brood parasites, including cuckoos and cowbirds, have multiple negative effects on their hosts. We analysed the effects of Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis parasitism on different components (e.g. egg losses, hatching success, chick survival and nest abandonment) of House Wren Troglodytes aedon reproductive success. We also conducted an experiment to discriminate between two mechanisms that may reduce hatching success in parasitized clutches: lower efficiency of incubation due to the increase in clutch volume and disruption of host incubation by the early hatching of Cowbirds. Egg puncturing by Shiny Cowbirds reduced host clutch size at hatching by 10–20%, and parasitized nests had a decrease in hatching success of 40–80%. Egg losses and hatching failures were positively associated with the intensity of parasitism. Brood reduction was greater in parasitized nests, but the growth rate of the chicks that fledged was similar to that in unparasitized nests. The combined effects of egg losses, hatching failures and brood reduction decreased the number of fledged chicks by 80%. In addition, egg puncturing increased the likelihood of nest abandonment by Wrens. Experimental data showed that hatching failures occurred when there was a combination of: (1) an increase in the volume of the clutch by the addition of the Cowbird egg without removal of host eggs, and (2) the addition of the Cowbird egg before the onset of incubation. This was relatively common in House Wren nests, as Cowbirds generally parasitize before the onset of incubation. Our results indicate that Shiny Cowbird parasitism imposes a major impact on House Wrens, as it affects all components of the Wren's reproductive success.