Africa’s vegetation is changing fast, owing to climate change and other results of human activities. How does this affect the distributions of interacting species such as brood parasites and their hosts? In this paper using data from the South African Bird Atlas Project, we show that parasites largely track changes in their hosts’ distributions, and that changing species distributions can set the stage for new potential host-parasite interactions between indigobirds and their hosts. Read more in the original paper by Guillaume Péron, Res Altwegg, Gabriel Jamie and Claire Spottiswoode, available open access in Journal of Animal Ecology.
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.