In Mozambique, we’ve been studying the other side of honeyguide’s lives: honeyguides are not only brutal brood parasites of other birds, but also the cooperative partners of human honey-hunters. In collaboration the Niassa Carnivore Project, we show that Yao honey-hunters in the Niassa National Reserve use special calls to signal to honeyguides that they’re eager to follow, and that honeyguides use this information to choose partners who are likely to be good collaborators. Read more in articles about the study published in The New Yorker, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The New York Times, National Geographic, Discovery Channel’s Seeker and Scientific American, listen to radio programmes on the BBC World Service, NPR, Voice of America or The Naked Scientists, watch a YouTube video about the research, or read the original paper by Claire Spottiswoode, Keith Begg and Colleen Begg, published in Science and available in full text from here.
Our paper ‘Why and how to apply Weber’s Law to coevolution and mimicry’ has been published in the journal Evolution. This perspectives paper, written by Tanmay Dixit, Eleanor Caves, Claire Spottiswoode, and Nicholas Horrocks, argues that Weber’s Law of proportional processing can lead to otherwise counterintuitive predictions about the evolutionary trajectories of mimicry systems. Weber’s Law states that when the magnitude of a stimulus is large, it is more difficult to discriminate a change or difference from that stimulus. In other words, relative differences are more salient than absolute differences. We show that Weber’s Law could have implications for mimicry: when stimulus magnitudes are high, it should be more difficult to discriminate a model from a mimic. This leads to testable predictions about evolutionary trajectories of models and mimics. We also present a framework for testing Weber’s Law and its implications for coevolution.