Dr Nicholas Horrocks has been awarded a three-year Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship to continue working on our study systems in Zambia. Nick’s fellowship project is entitled “Phenotypic plasticity in reproductive investment in a rapidly changing world” and will focus on whether ground-nesting birds at our study site (plovers, coursers and nightjars) can adapt to increased nest disturbance and hotter temperatures due to climate change. He will also investigate whether cuckoo finch mothers pre-adapt their chicks to thrive in the specific host nests that different cuckoo finch races parasitise. Congratulations Nick, and thank you to The Leverhulme Trust for their fantastic support once again.
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.