Mutualism or Parasitism? Using a Phylogenetic Approach to Characterize the Oxpecker-Ungulate Relationship

DSpace/Manakin Repository

Mutualism or Parasitism? Using a Phylogenetic Approach to Characterize the Oxpecker-Ungulate Relationship

Citable link to this page

. . . . . .

Title: Mutualism or Parasitism? Using a Phylogenetic Approach to Characterize the Oxpecker-Ungulate Relationship
Author: Nunn, Charles Lindsay; Ezenwa, Vanessa O.; Arnold, Christian; Koenig, Walter D.

Note: Order does not necessarily reflect citation order of authors.

Citation: Nunn, Charles L., Vanessa O. Ezenwa, Christian Arnold, and Walter D. Koenig. 2011. Mutualism or parasitism? Using a phylogenetic approach to characterize the oxpecker-ungulate relationship. Evolution 65(5): 1297–1304.
Full Text & Related Files:
Abstract: With their striking predilection for perching on African ungulates and eating their ticks, yellow-billed (Buphagus africanus) and red-billed oxpeckers (B. erythrorhynchus) represent one of the few potentially mutualistic relationships among vertebrates. The nature of the oxpecker–ungulate relationship remains uncertain, however, because oxpeckers are known to consume ungulate tissues, suggesting that the relationship between oxpeckers and ungulates may also be parasitic. To examine this issue further, we obtained data on oxpecker preferences for different ungulate species, the abundance of ticks on these ungulates, and ungulate hide thickness. In support of the mutualism hypothesis, we found that both species of oxpeckers prefer ungulate hosts that harbor a higher abundance of ticks. We found no evidence that hide thickness—a measure of the potential for parasitism by oxpeckers—predicts oxpecker preferences for different ungulate species. Oxpeckers also prefer larger-bodied ungulates, possibly because larger animals have more ticks, provide a more stable platform upon which to forage, or support more oxpeckers feeding simultaneously. However, the preference for ungulates with greater tick abundance was independent of host body mass. These results support the hypothesis that the relationship between oxpeckers and ungulates is primarily mutualistic.
Published Version: doi:10.1111/j.1558-5646.2010.01212.x
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Open Access Policy Articles, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#OAP
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:5344481

Show full Dublin Core record

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

  • FAS Scholarly Articles [7470]
    Peer reviewed scholarly articles from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of Harvard University
 
 

Search DASH


Advanced Search
 
 

Submitters