New paper on coevolution and chase-away evolution

Oct 25, 2023

Images of eggs and graphs showing changes in complexity and accuracy of mimicry

Our paper “Chase-away evolution maintains imperfect mimicry in a brood parasite–host system despite rapid evolution of mimics” has been published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. This study was led by Tanmay Dixit and carried out with Jess Lund, Tony Fulford, Andrei Apostol, Kuan-Chi Chen, Wenfei Tong, Will Feeney, Lazaro Hamusikili, John Colebrook-Robjent, Christopher Town, and Claire Spottiswoode.

We used a 50-year time series of images of cuckoo finch and prinia eggs to test how their complex patterns evolve. Prinia eggs have more complex patterns than cuckoo finch eggs, and unsurprisingly cuckoo finches evolved towards increased complexity over time. This would result in better mimicry of prinia eggs. However, the accuracy of mimicry remained the same over time, suggesting that increased complexity in prinias counteracted the increase in cuckoo finches. Such ‘chase-away’ evolution in prinias therefore maintains imperfect mimicry, despite rapid evolution in cuckoo finches over just 50 years.

Open access link:

Link to blog post about the article:




Tanmay Dixit awarded PhD and starting Junior Research Fellowship

Tanmay’s PhD, entitled “Signatures and forgeries: optimality in a coevolutionary arms race” was awarded with no corrections. Huge thanks to collaborators and colleagues who were instrumental to this work, and to examiners James Herbert-Read and Graeme Ruxton. Tanmay will remain on the team and continue conducting fieldwork in Choma as part of the Junior Research fellowship that he is starting at Jesus College, Cambridge.

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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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