Reichart, L. M., Washington State University, Pullman, USA, lreichart@wsu.edu
Webster, M. S., Washington State University, Pullman, USA, mwebster@wsu.edu

MOLECULAR IDENTIFICATION OF BROOD PARASITES: EVIDENCE OF A MIXED REPRODUCTIVE STRATEGY IN RUDDY DUCKS

Conspecific brood parasitism occurs when females lay eggs in nests other than their own. Parasitic females may lay eggs parasitically by using a specialized strategy (only lay parasitically) or by using a mixed strategy (nest and lay parasitically). Accurate identification of parasites is necessary to distinguish between parasitic egg laying strategies in avian populations. We present the first rigorous method to genetically identify parasitic ducklings and parasites in a population of Ruddy ducks using two molecular markers (protein fingerprinting from egg albumin, combined with 10 microsatellite loci). We found that 21% of offspring were parasitic and that 51% of nests contained parasitic offspring. We successfully identified parasitic females, where 73% had nests of their own and laid parasitically. We found no evidence to support that parasitic females specialized in laying eggs parasitically. Parasitic females laid eggs in multiple areas and parasitism was higher with increased nest density on wetlands. Parasitic ruddy ducks use a mixed reproductive strategy, enhanced when nest density is high.

Oral presentation

Session #:G03
Date: Tuesday, 8/5/08
Time: 2:30 PM

Presentation is given by student: Yes