Two of our team currently undertaking MSc research on interactions between African Cuckoos and their Fork-tailed Drongo hosts in Zambia have just been awarded PhD studentships to carry out their PhDs at the University of Cambridge – congratulations Mairenn Attwood and Jess Lund! And huge thanks to NERC for Mairenn’s DTP C-CLEAR studentship, and to the Department of Zoology, Cambridge, for Jess’s John Stanley Gardiner studentship.
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.