We were very happy to welcome Dr Lackson Chama, from the Department of Zoology and Aquatic Sciences at Copperbelt University in Zambia, on a four-day visit to the University of Cape Town. Lackson gave seminars at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute and at Stellenbosch University on his research on the ecology of avian frugivory, and met with prospective research collaborators, already resulting in some exciting plans for joint work. We’re extremely grateful for Lackson’s kind help in facilitating our continued research in Zambia.
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.