For the last three years we’ve been studying the evolution of nest camouflage in ground-nesting birds such as nightjars, plovers and coursers in the field in Zambia (and South Africa), in collaboration with Exeter University’s Sensory Ecology Group. Play a new computer game online and by exerting your own natural selection, help us study the evolution of camouflage in ever-evolving populations of virtual eggs! Please also join nearly a half a million others in admiring the superb camouflage of this fiery-necked nightjar in Zambia in a video released by our funders, the BBSRC.
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.