Feeney and Langmore on Campbell Park research on wrens and cuckoos

To: "'David Rees'" <>, "'Robin Hide'" <>, <>
Subject: Feeney and Langmore on Campbell Park research on wrens and cuckoos
From: "John Bundock" <>
Date: Wed, 8 Apr 2015 09:22:13 +1000

Thanks for your translation David. I think I now understand what Feeney and Langmore were trying to convey. Their abstract suggests that the paper is one that, for the general reader, will be half read and a quarter understood.


John Bundock


From: David Rees [
Sent: Wednesday, 8 April 2015 8:41 AM
To: Robin Hide; <>
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] Feeney and Langmore on Campbell Park research on wrens and cuckoos




I'm sure the work is fine, but reading such an abstract it is clear to me what gives so much modern science a bad name.


As an example, why don't we have a competition to replace '...have a plastic defense portfolio that can be acquired rapidly and deployed facultatively' with something that approaches what one might call English!  The military would have been proud of those words, these are fairy wrens!  


How about  '...wrens can quickly and flexibly change their behaviour to defend their nests from Cuckoos' .


I am sure others can do better.






On Wed, Apr 8, 2015 at 7:33 AM, Robin Hide <> wrote:

This new paper reporting Campbell Park research may be of interest to some list members-


Feeney, William. E. and Naomi E. Langmore (2015). “Superb Fairy-wrens (Malurus cyaneus) increase vigilance near their nest with the perceived risk of brood parasitism.” The Auk 132(2): 359-364.

Abstract: Brood parasites typically impose costs on their hosts, which select for host defenses. However, where defenses are costly, hosts can benefit by facultative _expression_ of defenses in relation to the risk of parasitism. The results of our model-presentation experiments show that Superb Fairy-wrens (Malurus cyaneus) mediate vigilance around their nest according to their perceived risk of brood parasitism; when the risk of parasitism is high, they increase the time they spend in the vicinity of their nests. In combination with previous studies, these data suggest that Superb Fairy-wrens have a plastic defense portfolio that can be acquired rapidly and deployed facultatively to prevent parasitism while minimizing wasteful investment in defenses in the absence of parasitism.


William E. Feeney1,2* and Naomi E. Langmore1

1Evolution, Ecology and Genetics, Research School of Biology, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

2Evolutionary Ecology Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom


*Corresponding author: m("","william.e.feeney");" target="_blank">


Robin Hide



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