Despite being truncated by the pandemic, Gabriel Jamie, Tanmay Dixit and Stephanie McClelland spent very successful couple of months in Zambia. A lot of nests were found, many by Sylvester Munkonko, Oliver Kashembe and Oscar Siankwasya, above, allowing Tanmay and Steph to collect very useful data. Gabriel successfully collected genetic samples that will be used to construct the reference genome of the Tawny-flanked Prinia. Gabriel also acted as scientific consultant for a BBC film crew making a documentary on the amazing indigobirds and whydahs at the field site. The crew were successfully able to get the desired footage and are hoping the film will come out in 2021. Watch this space!
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.