CBCF: 'Brood parasitism and the evolution of cooperative breeding in bir

To: CanberraBirds <>
Subject: CBCF: 'Brood parasitism and the evolution of cooperative breeding in birds'
From: "David McDonald (personal)" <>
Date: Wed, 15 Jan 2014 17:54:00 +1100
This study was published in the prestigious journal Science last month. The research undertaken by its first author, Will Feeney from ANU, was supported in part by the Canberra Birds Conservation Fund (CBCF) with a grant for his project titled 'The nature of coevolved reciprocal adaptations prior to egg insertion by the parasite in the host nest':

Feeney, WE, Medina, I, Somveille, M, Heinsohn, R, Hall, ML, Mulder, RA, Stein, JA, Kilner, RM & Langmore, NE 2013, 'Brood parasitism and the evolution of cooperative breeding in birds', Science, vol. 342, no. 6165, pp. 1506-8.
The global distribution of cooperatively breeding birds is highly uneven, with hotspots in Australasia and sub-Saharan Africa. The ecological drivers of this distribution remain enigmatic yet could yield insights into the evolution and persistence of cooperative breeding. We report that the global distributions of avian obligate brood parasites and cooperatively breeding passerines are tightly correlated and that the uneven phylogenetic distribution of cooperative breeding is associated with the uneven targeting of hosts by brood parasites. With a long-term field study, we show that brood parasites can acquire superior care for their young by targeting cooperative breeders. Conversely, host defenses against brood parasites are strengthened by helpers at the nest. Reciprocally selected interactions between brood parasites and cooperative breeders may therefore explain the close association between these two breeding systems.
The Management Committee of the Canberra Birds Conservation Fund (Penny Olsen, Geoffrey Dabb and David McDonald) thank all those who have made donations to the Fund.

For information about the Fund, including making tax-deductible donations to it, please visit or contact me directly.


David McDonald
1004 Norton Road
Wamboin NSW 2620
T: (02) 6238 3706
M: 0416 231 890
F: (02) 9475 4274
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