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Reconciling genetic expectations from host specificity with historical population dynamics in an avian brood parasite, Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo Chalcites basalis of Australia

Joseph, L., Wilke, T. and Alpers, D. (2002) Reconciling genetic expectations from host specificity with historical population dynamics in an avian brood parasite, Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo Chalcites basalis of Australia. Molecular Ecology, 11 (4). pp. 829-837.

Link to Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-294X.2002.01481.x
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Abstract

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is being used increasingly to explore the evolution of host specificity in avian brood parasites. A stable coevolutionary equilibrium between multiple phylogenetically unrelated hosts and a brood parasitic species predicts that mtDNA diversity in the parasite should be relatively deep and phylogenetically structured. Also, the different intraspecific clades resulting from parasitism to multiple sympatric hosts should themselves occur sympatrically. However, mtDNA diversity in brood parasites is as susceptible to effects of historical population dynamics as in any species. We demonstrate the relevance of these dynamics to the use of mtDNA in understanding coevolution between an Australian brood-parasite, Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo Chalcites basalis and its hosts, Malurus fairy-wrens and Acanthiza thornbills. Previous ecological and behavioural analyses argue that Malurus- and Acanthiza-specific host races exist in C. basalis. Yet mtDNA diversity in C. basalis is low and phylogenetically unstructured (mean sequence divergence 0.15 ± 0.07%, range 0.00%–0.31%) and tests of mtDNA neutrality and range expansion vs. population stability (Tajima’s D, Fu & Li’s F* and D*, Fu’s FS, mismatch analyses) all indicate that C. basalis has expanded its range very recently, probably within the last few tens of thousands of years following climatic amelioration after a peak of aridity in the late Pleistocene. The low mtDNA diversity and its lack of phylogenetic structure in C. basalis deny the existence of evolutionarily long-term stable host races in C. basalis but not the possibility of recently evolved ones. They highlight the need for renewed behavioural and ecological study of the relationship between C. basalis and its hosts. Our findings illustrate the need to understand the evolutionary context in which a brood parasite and its hosts have evolved if mtDNA data are to be used in testing hypotheses concerning the origin and maintenance of host specificity. They also add to the growing body of work illustrating the use of mismatch analyses and Fu’s FS in detecting range expansions.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/16697
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