Tanmay Dixit has commenced his PhD research on egg mimicry in the Cuckoo Finch and egg rejection behaviour by their hosts (family Cisticolidae). He plans to use approaches from applied mathematics, visual ecology and psychology to understand how hosts recognise eggs, and the implications for this on host egg phenotypes and parasite mimicry. This Cuckoo Finch chick, held by Tanmay above, was clearly a successful mimic!
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.