Congratulations to all involved- great project, great use of CBCF funds, and fascinating results.
From: David McDonald (personal)
Sent: Wednesday, 15 January 2014 5:54 PM
Cc: william feeney
Subject: [canberrabirds] CBCF: 'Brood parasitism and the evolution of cooperative breeding in birds'
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
http://cbcf.canberrabirds.org.au/ or contact me directly.