Birds choose nest sites that match their own camouflage

Aug 15, 2017

Animals that rely on camouflage can choose the best places to conceal themselves based on their individual appearance, our work in Zambia has found. Studying nine species of nightjar, plover and courser, we found that individual birds adjust their choices of where to nest based on their specific patterns and colours of their eggs (in the case of plovers and coursers that flee at long range) or their plumage (in the case of nightjars that sit tight on their eggs). Read more in the full paper published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, by Martin StevensJolyon TrosciankoJared Wilson-Aggarwal and Claire Spottiswoode; see also news articles about this research in The TelegraphThe Daily MailThe International Business Times and Cosmos Magazine, and Jared’s behind-the-paper blog on the journal website.

News

Outreach for British Science Week at local Cambridgeshire school

During this year’s British Science Week, we’ve been engaging with local school children in Cambridgeshire. Mairenn Attwood led interactive talks at the Thomas Clarkson Academy in Wisbech,  a school partnered with ‘Teach First’ (a charity aimed at reducing educational inequality).

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New scientific paper on the “Limits to host colonization and speciation” published

Our paper “Limits to host colonization and speciation in a radiation of parasitic finches” has just been published in the journal Behavioral Ecology. In this study, led by Dr Gabriel Jamie, we explored the factors which limited the colonisation of new hosts by brood-parasitic Vidua finches. Speciation in these birds is closely connected with the colonisation of new hosts. Therefore, if we can understand what limits this process, we can understand what has limited the diversification of this radiation.

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Parasitic finches featured in new documentary “Attenborough’s Life in Colour” on BBC One

The amazing mimicry shown by nestling Pin-tailed Whydahs of their Common Waxbill hosts is showcased in David Attenborough’s Life in Colour the latest natural history documentary on BBC One. Filming of this sequence by Nick Green and Max Hug Williams of Humble Bee Films took place at our field site in Choma, Zambia, with Dr Gabriel Jamie acting as scientific consultant and contributing sound recordings.

You can watch the sequence in Episode 2: “Hiding in Colour” on BBC iPlayer.

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