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: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-023-02232-4
Link to blog post about the article: https://ecoevocommunity.nature.com/posts/an-evolutionary-chase-how-mimicry-remains-imperfect-despite-rapid-evolution-of-mimics