Tanmay Dixit and Claire Spottiswoode visited collaborators in the USA as part of developing questions for Tanmay’s PhD. Prof L. Mahadevan (Harvard University) and Dr Mary Caswell (Cassie) Stoddard (Princeton University) and their groups made them feel very welcome, and the thought-provoking and fascinating discussions led to the development of very interesting hypotheses and predictions. Here Cassie shows us Einstein’s house in Princeton (no pressure, Tanmay!).
New paper on imperfect egg mimicry
Our paper “Combined measures of mimetic fidelity explain imperfect mimicry in a brood parasite-host system” has just been published in the journal Biology Letters. This study was led by Tanmay Dixit, and carried out together with Gary Choi, Salem al-Mosleh, Jess Lund, Jolyon Troscianko, Collins Moya, L Mahadevan, and Claire Spottiswoode, as part of a collaboration between our group and Prof. Mahadevan and his lab at Harvard University. Together we combined mathematical tools and field experiments in Zambia to quantify a key difference – “squiggle” markings – between the eggs of hosts (tawny-flanked prinias) and parasites (cuckoo finches). We showed that suboptimal behaviour on the part of prinias allows cuckoo finches to get by with an imperfect copy of prinia eggs.