Vidua mimicry and speciation featured in Evolution

Dec 2, 2020

Trends in Ecology and Evolution front cover, September 2020

We’re delighted that the amazing diversity of estrildid finch chick phenotypes, many of which are mimicked by their indigobird and whydah brood parasites, was featured on the front cover of the November issue of Evolution.

As well as featuring our paper Multimodal mimicry of hosts in a radiation of parasitic finches“, the issue also contains an insightful ‘Digest’ piece on our research by Renan Janke Bosque, Jente Ottenburghs, Cecília Rodrigues Vieira and Fabrícius Maia Chaves Bicalho Domingos. You can read it here: “The interplay between imprinting, mimicry, and multimodal signaling can lead to sympatric speciation“).

























Outreach for British Science Week at local Cambridgeshire school

During this year’s British Science Week, we’ve been engaging with local school children in Cambridgeshire. Mairenn Attwood led interactive talks at the Thomas Clarkson Academy in Wisbech,  a school partnered with ‘Teach First’ (a charity aimed at reducing educational inequality).

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New scientific paper on the “Limits to host colonization and speciation” published

Our paper “Limits to host colonization and speciation in a radiation of parasitic finches” has just been published in the journal Behavioral Ecology. In this study, led by Dr Gabriel Jamie, we explored the factors which limited the colonisation of new hosts by brood-parasitic Vidua finches. Speciation in these birds is closely connected with the colonisation of new hosts. Therefore, if we can understand what limits this process, we can understand what has limited the diversification of this radiation.

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Parasitic finches featured in new documentary “Attenborough’s Life in Colour” on BBC One

The amazing mimicry shown by nestling Pin-tailed Whydahs of their Common Waxbill hosts is showcased in David Attenborough’s Life in Colour the latest natural history documentary on BBC One. Filming of this sequence by Nick Green and Max Hug Williams of Humble Bee Films took place at our field site in Choma, Zambia, with Dr Gabriel Jamie acting as scientific consultant and contributing sound recordings.

You can watch the sequence in Episode 2: “Hiding in Colour” on BBC iPlayer.

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