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Coevolutionary interactions between farmers and mafia induce host acceptance of avian brood parasites

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Abou Chakra,  Maria
Department Evolutionary Theory, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Traulsen,  Arne
Department Evolutionary Theory, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Abou Chakra, M., Hilbe, C., & Traulsen, A. (2016). Coevolutionary interactions between farmers and mafia induce host acceptance of avian brood parasites. Royal Society Open Science, 3(5): 160036. doi:10.1098/rsos.160036.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002B-83D0-B
Abstract
Brood parasites exploit their host in order to increase their own fitness. Typically, this results in an arms race between parasite trickery and host defence. Thus, it is puzzling to observe hosts that accept parasitism without any resistance. The ‘mafia' hypothesis suggests that these hosts accept parasitism to avoid retaliation. Retaliation has been shown to evolve when the hosts condition their response to mafia parasites, who use depredation as a targeted response to rejection. However, it is unclear if acceptance would also emerge when ‘farming' parasites are present in the population. Farming parasites use depredation to synchronize the timing with the host, destroying mature clutches to force the host to re-nest. Herein, we develop an evolutionary model to analyse the interaction between depredatory parasites and their hosts. We show that coevolutionary cycles between farmers and mafia can still induce host acceptance of brood parasites. However, this equilibrium is unstable and in the long-run the dynamics of this host–parasite interaction exhibits strong oscillations: when farmers are the majority, accepters conditional to mafia (the host will reject first and only accept after retaliation by the parasite) have a higher fitness than unconditional accepters (the host always accepts parasitism). This leads to an increase in mafia parasites' fitness and in turn induce an optimal environment for accepter hosts.