The BBC Radio 4 series “Natural Histories” is featuring honeyguides on 18 October (11h00 BST; repeat on 24 October at 21h00). On the programme, Claire Spottiswoode talks about our research on the Jekyll-and-Hyde lives of these intriguing birds – their brutal life as brood parasites of other birds (which we study in Zambia), and their cooperative life as collaborators of human honey-hunters (which we study in Mozambique), joined by Zambian nest-finder and legendary bird man Lazaro Hamuskili, Mozambican honey-hunter Orlando Yassene, and Dr Brian Wood of Yale University. The programme is presented by Brett Westwood and produced by Tim Dee. For more information, please see the programme webpage.
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.