Tanmay and Jana join us for the wet season in Zambia; we host Maggie Mwale from Livingstone Museum

Mar 25, 2018

Maggie with new nests

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.


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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