An enjoyable wet season has seen Gabriel Jamie collect genetic samples and egg phenotype data for our project examining the genetics of egg appearance. Tanmay Dixit and Jana Riederer conducted fieldwork in Zambia for the first time, studying egg rejection, Cuckoo finch colouration, and host rearing environments (the latter in collaboration with Nick Horrocks). Despite it being relatively dry, there was sufficient breeding to collect valuable data for all of these projects. We were visited by Maggie Mwale, Assistant Keeper of Ornithology at the Livingstone Museum, who spent several days with us, sharing in our research in Choma and collecting many nests for her display at the museum.
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.