It’s spring in the miombo woodlands of south-central Africa, and we’re back in the field in Choma. Nicholas Horrocks, Wenfei Tong and Claire Spottiswoode are just starting a new season of field experiments on honeyguides, and Jolyon Troscianko and Jared Wilson-Aggarwal are starting their second season of field research on camouflage and predator vision in nesting nightjars, plovers and coursers.
New paper on imperfect egg mimicry
Our paper “Combined measures of mimetic fidelity explain imperfect mimicry in a brood parasite-host system” has just been published in the journal Biology Letters. This study was led by Tanmay Dixit, and carried out together with Gary Choi, Salem al-Mosleh, Jess Lund, Jolyon Troscianko, Collins Moya, L Mahadevan, and Claire Spottiswoode, as part of a collaboration between our group and Prof. Mahadevan and his lab at Harvard University. Together we combined mathematical tools and field experiments in Zambia to quantify a key difference – “squiggle” markings – between the eggs of hosts (tawny-flanked prinias) and parasites (cuckoo finches). We showed that suboptimal behaviour on the part of prinias allows cuckoo finches to get by with an imperfect copy of prinia eggs.