Habitat-selection hypothesis

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Habitat selection hypothesis in an attempt to explain the mechanisms of brood parasite nest selection in cuckoos. In habitat selection hypothesis, a female cuckoo retains recognition (is imprinted) of the habitat type in which she was reared, and will subsequently return to this habitat type in order to lay eggs. Habitat might be defined as dry or wet, shrubby or forested, lakeside, etc. This habitat preference increases the likelihood of encountering the suitable host species, as most host species are known to be habitat specific. Thus, habitat selection is thought to allow for random host selection by the female cuckoo (Teuschl et al. 1998; Vogl et al. 2002). A major strength of the hypothesis is that provides a mechanism by which natural selection could work.


  • Teuschl, Y., B. Taborsky, and M. Taborsky. (1998) How do cuckoos find their hosts? The role of habitat imprinting. Animal Behavior 56: 1425-1433
  • Vogl, W., M. Taborsky, B. Taborsky, Y. Teuschl, and M. Honza. (2002) Cuckoo females preferentially use specific habitats when searching for hot nests. Animal Behavior 64: 843-850