Our research at ISBE 2014

Jul 15, 2014

Coming to the International Society for Behavioral Ecology conference in New York City from July 31st to August 5th? Five of us will be giving talks there about our research in Zambia (and in Claire’s case, Mozambique):

  • Marjorie Sorensen on ‘Why do migratory birds sing in winter?’
  • Claire Spottiswoode on ‘Honeyguides preferentially initiate mutualistic interactions with humans that signal their intention to cooperate’
  • Wenfei Tong on ‘Genetic signatures of monogamy and maternally inherited host specialization in the brood parasitic cuckoo finch’
  • Jolyon Troscianko on ‘Edge disruption and survival in wild ground nesting birds’
  • Jared Wilson-Aggarwal on ‘Microhabitat selection in ground nesting birds’

News

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.

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New paper on host aggression and hawk mimicry

Our paper “Aggressive hosts are undeterred by a cuckoo’s hawk mimicry, but probably make good foster parents” has just been published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. In the paper, we investigate the costs and benefits to the African cuckoo of specializing on a highly aggressive host species, the fork-tailed drongo.

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African Cuckoos Team at the Pan-African Ornithological Congress

The African Cuckoos Team had a fantastic time at the Pan-African Ornithological Congress (PAOC15), this year held in Vic Falls, Zimbabwe. Dr Chima Nwaogu gave a plenary talk on “Differing Priorities in the Timing of Annual Life History Events”, while Professor Claire Spottiswoode and Silky Hamama presented during a roundtable session on communities in conservation and research. Silky also presented a poster, with Claire, Jess Lund, Mairenn Attwood and Cameron Blair each giving research talks as well. 

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