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 Stevens, Jolyon Troscianko, Jared Wilson-Aggarwal and Claire Spottiswoode; see also news articles about this research in The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The International Business Times and Cosmos Magazine, and Jared’s behind-the-paper blog on the journal website.
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.