University of Oulu

Moreras, A., Tolvanen, J., Tornberg, R. et al. Breeding near heterospecifics as a defence against brood parasites: can redstarts lower probability of cuckoo parasitism using neighbours?. Oecologia 199, 871–883 (2022).

Breeding near heterospecifics as a defence against brood parasites : can redstarts lower probability of cuckoo parasitism using neighbours?

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Author: Moreras, Angela1; Tolvanen, Jere2; Tornberg, Risto2;
Organizations: 1FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, DST-NRF Centre of Excellence, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, 7701, South Africa
2Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, 90014, Oulu, Finland
3Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Jyvaskyla, 40014, Jyväskylä, Finland
4School of Resource Wisdom, University of Jyvaskyla, 40014, Jyvaskyla, Finland
5Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE), 90014, Oulu, Finland
6Section of Ecology, Department of Biology, University of Turku, 20014, Turku, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2022
Publish Date: 2023-08-18


Breeding habitat choice based on the attraction to other species can provide valuable social information and protection benefits. In birds, species with overlapping resources can be a cue of good quality habitats; species with shared predators and/or brood parasites can increase joint vigilance or cooperative mobbing, while raptors may provide a protective umbrella against these threats. We tested whether the migratory common redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) is attracted to breed near active nests of the great tit (Parus major), a keystone-information source for migrant passerine birds, or a top predator, the northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis). This system is unique to test these questions because the redstart is a regular host for the common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus). Therefore, we also evaluated other possible benefits coming from the heterospecific attraction, especially in terms of reducing brood parasitism risk. We monitored redstart occupancy rates, onset of breeding, reproductive investment, and followed nest outcomes in terms of brood parasitism, nest predation risk and overall reproductive success. Redstarts avoided breeding near goshawks, but showed neither attraction nor avoidance to breed next to great tits. Both neighbours neither reduced brood parasitism risk nor affected overall nesting success in redstarts. Redstarts may not use heterospecific attraction for settlement decisions, as associations with other species can only exist when some benefits are gained. Thus, environmental cues may be more important than social information for redstarts when breeding habitat choice. Other front-line defence strategies may have a better impact reducing breeding negative interactions, such brood parasitism.

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Series: Oecologia
ISSN: 0029-8549
ISSN-E: 1432-1939
ISSN-L: 0029-8549
Volume: 199
Issue: 4
Pages: 871 - 883
DOI: 10.1007/s00442-022-05242-4
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: Funding was provided by a DST-NRF Centre of Excellence of South Africa, Academy of Finland (grants no. 12265 and 125720 to JTF, and grant no. 138049 to RLT), Kone Foundation (to JTF and JT), Kvantum Institute, Societas pro Fauna et Flora Fennica and Oskar Öflunds Stiftelse (to JT).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 122665
Detailed Information: 122665 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
125720 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2022. This version of the article has been accepted for publication, after peer review (when applicable) and is subject to Springer Nature’s AM terms of use, but is not the Version of Record and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections. The Version of Record is available online at: