Camouflage is one of the most famous examples of adaptation in nature, but amazingly, it has proven surprisingly hard to show that it really works in the wild, as seen by the eyes of the appropriate predators. This study shows that natural nests in the wild in Zambia survive better when they’re concealed by better-camouflaged nightjar parents sitting tight on their eggs (like the Mozambique nightjar at left), or when they contain better-camouflaged eggs left exposed by their fleeing plover and courser parents. Read more in an article about the study in Nature World News, or in the original paper by Jolyon Troscianko, Jared Wilson-Aggarwal, Martin Stevens and Claire Spottiswoode, and is available open access in Scientific Reports.
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.