Zoological Research ›› 2019, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (3): 226-230.doi: 10.24272/j.issn.2095-8137.2019.039

• Letters to the editor • Previous Articles     Next Articles

High egg rejection rate in a Chinese population of grey-backed thrush (Turdus hortulorum)

Can-Chao Yang1,Long-Wu Wang2,Wei Liang1(),Anders Møller3   

  1. 1. Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Ecology of Tropical Islands, College of Life Sciences, Hainan Normal University, Haikou Hainan 571158, China
    2. State Forestry Administration of China Key Laboratory for Biodiversity Conservation in Mountainous Areas of Southwest Karst, School of Life Sciences, Guizhou Normal University, Guiyang Guizhou 550001, China
    3. Ecologie Systématique Evolution, Université Paris-Sud, CNRS, AgroParisTech, Université Paris-Saclay, F-91405 Orsay Cedex, France
    3. Ecologie Systématique Evolution, Université Paris-Sud, CNRS, AgroParisTech, Université Paris-Saclay, F-91405 Orsay Cedex, France
  • Received:2018-10-18 Accepted:2019-01-11 Online:2019-05-18 Published:2019-04-19
  • Contact: Wei Liang E-mail:liangwei@hainnu.edu.cn
  • Supported by:
    This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31672303 to C.Y., 31660617 to L.W. and 31472013 and 31772453 to W.L.)


Several previous studies have indicated that nest sanitation behavior is a general adaptation in altricial birds, with egg recognition capacity evolving as a specific response to interspecific brood parasitism (IBP). However, a recent study suggested an alternative hypothesis, concluding that conspecific brood parasitism (CBP) selects for egg rejection in thrushes, with IBP as a by-product. In the present study, we used a spectrophotometer to quantify egg coloration and egg mimicry and performed artificial parasitism experiments in the grey-backed thrush (Turdus hortulorum). We showed that individuals of this species rejected 100% of 12 foreign eggs, without IBP or CBP detected. In a review of previous studies, we also discuss possible explanations for the high egg rejection rate in the grey-backed thrush and suggest areas for future study.

Key words: Artificial parasitism, Conspecific brood parasitism, Egg recognition, Interspecific brood parasitism, Reflectance spectra

Figure 1

Nest site, nest, incubating female, and eggs of the grey-backed thrush (Photos by Long-Wu Wang)"

Figure 2

Experimental nest of the grey-backed thrush with a blue model egg (Photo by Long-Wu Wang)"

Figure 3

Egg reflectance of the grey-backed thrush and model eggs"

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