WashU affiliated authors: Carlos Botero (Dept. of Biology)
Abstract: Adaptive responses to ecological uncertainty may affect the dynamics of interspecific interactions and shape the course of evolution within symbioses. Obligate avian brood parasites provide a particularly tractable system for understanding how uncertainty, driven by environmental variability and symbiont phenology, influences the evolution of species interactions. Here, we use phylogenetically-informed analyses and a comprehensive dataset on the behaviour and geographic distribution of obligate avian brood parasites and their hosts to demonstrate that increasing uncertainty in thermoregulation and parental investment of parasitic young are positively associated with host richness and diversity. Our findings are consistent with the theoretical expectation that ecological risks and environmental unpredictability should favour the evolution of bet-hedging. Additionally, these highly consistent patterns highlight the important role that ecological uncertainty is likely to play in shaping the evolution of specialisation and generalism in complex interspecific relationships.
Citation: Antonson, N.D., Rubenstein, D.R., Hauber, M.E. et al. Ecological uncertainty favours the diversification of host use in avian brood parasites. Nat Commun 11, 4185 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-18038-y