Date: September 27, 2018
Source: University of Exeter
Researchers at the Universities of Exeter and Cambridge have shed light on why some species cannot tell the difference between their own offspring and those of intruders that have been slipped into their nests.
It has previously been observed that parents are often incapable of recognising genetic differences between their offspring and the offspring of another parent in their nest. The study is the first to show how this surprising inability may have arisen through a phenomenon known as Crozier's effect. For this effect to work, it is crucial that the individuals can act, in their lifetime, as both hosts and parasites.
Parents might detect a foreign 'cuckoo' offspring by comparing its genetic features with their own. In the Digger wasps studied, rejection involves considerable wastage of resources, because an offspring is thrown out of the nest along with some of the food that was provided for it.