An evolutionarily fundamental, yet rarely examined, aspect of host-parasite arms races is the repeatability of individual host responses to parasitism. We examined the repeatability of egg ejection, and the latency to eject, across a time-scale of days (within one breeding attempt), weeks and months (between breeding attempts within one breeding season), and years (across different breeding seasons). The ejection of non-mimetic model eggs by European blackbirds, Turdus merula, showed overall high repeatability (r ~ 0.70) and, similar to empirical patterns on most other behavioral traits already studied, showed decreasing repeatability with time. In contrast, latency to ejection showed negligible repeatability overall (r ~0.20) and did not change with time. Ejection rates, latencies to ejection and the repeatability of egg ejection did not differ between young and old females. Previous experience with experimentation (number of model eggs the female received before the focal trial) marginally non-significantly covaried with egg ejection (positively) and with latency to egg ejection (negatively). Repeatability estimates for both egg ejection and latency to egg ejection at the within one breeding attempt time-scale did not statistically differ from those reported in a previous study of a different blackbird population (introduced population in New Zealand). To our knowledge, this is the first comparison of behavioral repeatability between a native vs. introduced population of any animal species.
- Anti-parasite defense
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology