Jana Riederer

Biography & Research

Jana Riederer with Cape Robin.

I am a graduate in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, specialising in Zoology. I am currently spending a year gaining additional field research experience, before continuing my graduate studies in evolutionary biology (MSc in Evolution and Ecology in the Netherlands).

I have always held a deep fascination for science and biology, and especially for evolutionary biology and behavioural ecology – I find it intriguing to ask questions about how selection shapes the world around us, and investigate why organisms appear and behave as they do. My enthusiasm for research and biology was further fuelled by the fascinating Natural Sciences course at the University of Cambridge, as well as by the several research projects which I had the privilege to take part in. These projects took me on a journey through different countries and continents, and through several of the, in my opinion, most fascinating topics in biology – including work on ecological engineering in the Philippines (with Prof. Settele from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research), cell biology and genetics in Austria (research group of Prof. Friml) and pollination ecology in Panama (research group of Prof. Jiggins). For my bachelor thesis, I investigated the effect of shoal coherence and personality composition on foraging success and learning in three-spined sticklebacks, under the supervision of Dr. Boogert

I am very excited to now join the African Cuckoos group and work on the amazing study system of cuckoo finches and their various hosts. During my time here, I will carry out two projects. Firstly, I will use behavioural experiments to investigate two hypotheses for why cuckoo finch chicks have black skin – as a way of accentuating the signal of the striking red and yellow inner areas of the mouth, or as part of their thermoregulation.  Secondly, in collaboration with Nick Horrocks, I will monitor chick rearing environments in the various hosts of cuckoo finches. This will allow us to explore how phenotypic plasticity can mediate adaptation of parasite chicks to host-specific rearing environments.


Symposium on moult in tropical birds at International Ornithological Congress

Dr Gabriel Jamie and Dr Chima Nwaogu organised a symposium on “The ecology and evolution of moult in tropical birds” as part of the International Ornithological Congress. The symposium included a Round Table discussion as well as invited talks from a range of speakers including Dr Yahkat Barshep (A. P. Leventis Ornithological Research Institute, Nigeria), Dr Barbara Helm (Swiss Ornithological Research Institute, Switzerland), Dr Oluwadunsin Adekola (FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town, South Africa & Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria) and Dr Yosef Kiat (University of Haifa, Israel).

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Dr Gabriel Jamie speaks at European Society for Evolutionary Biology conference

Dr Gabriel Jamie was an invited speaker at the European Society for Evolutionary Biology conference in Prague, Czech Republic, as part of the symposium on “Repeated and Parallel Evolution in Adaptive Radiations. Gabriel spoke on “The persistence of polymorphisms across species radiations” building on work conducted together with Dr Joana Meier. To learn more about this research you can read their Trends in Ecology and Evolution paper here.

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Evolutionary Biology Crash Course

Tanmay Dixit was a member of a team organising and lecturing in the inaugural Evolutionary Biology Crash Course. This course, aimed at undergraduate or early-postgraduate students, teaches evolutionary principles to students who have had limited opportunities to be exposed to evolutionary ideas. The course is funded by the Equal Opportunities Initiative Fund of the European Society of Evolutionary Biology (ESEB). Tanmay presented lectures on behavioural ecology and evolution, focussing on kin selection, coevolution, and parasitism. Over 700 students, with the vast majority from the global South, attended the course, which was a resounding success!

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