In a new paper in Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Dr Gabriel Jamie and Dr Joana Meier explore the phenomenon that the same polymorphisms often recur in many members of a species radiation (e.g. colour/pattern morphs, heterostyly, mating types, shell chirality). This phenomenon is puzzling because speciation often represents a barrier to the inheritance of the ancestral genetic variation underpinning polymorphisms. Generally, only a subset of the ancestral population go on to become founders of the new species. They outline the characteristics of polymorphisms that help their underlying genetic variation get inherited from ancestral standing variation, re-introduced through introgression or re-invented through mutation and also explore the factors influencing whether the requisite balancing selection operates widely across daughter species so that polymorphisms are maintained in many members of the radiation.
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.