New paper on host aggression and hawk mimicry

Jan 4, 2023

Our paper “Aggressive hosts are undeterred by a cuckoo’s hawk mimicry, but probably make good foster parents” has just been published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. This research was led by Mairenn Attwood, and carried out together with Jess Lund, Chima Nwaogu, Collins Moya and Claire Spottiswoode. We investigated the costs and benefits to the African cuckoo of specializing on a highly aggressive host species, the fork-tailed drongo.

We used field experiments to test the effectiveness of hawk mimicry by African cuckoos when attacking host nests, alongside survival analysis of the same host nests.We showed for the first time that aggression can exacerbate the trade-off a parasite faces in choosing which host species to parasitise. Drongo aggression undermined the effectiveness of hawk mimicry. However, drongo nest survival was high relative to other potential host species with similar nesting ecology, suggesting that successful parasites secure high-quality care for their offspring.


Jess Lund awarded an R. C. Lewontin Grant from the Society for the Study of Evolution

The Society for the Study of Evolution has awarded Jess Lund an R. C. Lewontin Graduate Research Excellence Grant, which will enable her to expand her investigations into the fascinating lives of honeyguides. This grant is awarded to students early in their PhD programmes to assist them in enhancing the scope of their research. Thank you to the SSE for their generous support of our work!

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New paper on eggshell surface properties

Stephanie McClelland’s paper entitled “Eggshell composition and surface properties of avian brood-parasitic species compared with non-parasitic species” has been published in the journal Royal Society Open Science. This study measured structural properties of the eggshells of brood parasites and their hosts around the world. The study found that…

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