Naomi Langmore‘s team at the Australian National University have just published a wonderful paper in Science showing that brood parasitism may have been a significant force in the evolution of cooperative breeding in birds: see Feeney et al. (2014) Brood parasitism and the evolution of cooperative breeding in birds. Claire Spottiswoode wrote a Perspective piece about this study for the journal: read Perspectives article.
In a new paper published in Evolution, Dr Gabriel Jamie along with Silky Hamama, Collins Moya and Prof. Claire Spottiswoode from the African Cuckoos team and collaborators from University of Puerto Rico (Steven Van Belleghem), Princeton University (Dr Cassie Stoddard and Dr Ben Hogan) and University of Cambridge (Professor Rebecca Kilner) provide evidence of host-specific mimicry in the indigobirds and whydahs of Africa. Building on the pioneering work of Robert Payne and Jürgen Nicolai, they provide quantitative evidence that nestling Vidua finches mimic the patterns, colours and begging calls of their host’s nestling, and qualitative evidence of mimicry of host movements.