The biological sciences department will host a seminar titled “Battle For The Nest: Co-evolution Between Avian Brood Parasites And Their Hosts” at 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 5, in Room G-3 Schrenk Hall. The seminar will be presented by Dr. Brian Peer, professor of biological sciences at Western Illinois University and a candidate for biological sciences chair.
Avian brood parasites lay their eggs in the nest of other birds and rely on these hosts to care for their young, Peer says. Brood parasitism is costly and hosts have evolved a series of adaptations to thwart parasitism, which in turn has selected for a variety of counter-adaptations by the brood parasites. One of the most enigmatic features of this system, and one that puzzled Darwin, is why hosts of brood parasites accept parasitism in spite of the significant costs to their fitness. Peer will provide an overview of the brood parasites and their adaptations, and will discuss the reasons for this apparent non-adaptive response to brood parasitism including the avian mafia, evolutionary lag, and evolutionary equilibrium. He will also address the outcome of long term avian brood parasite-host coevolution.