Biography & Research
My research focuses on the ways in which species interact, and the consequences of these interactions on the evolutionary trajectories of populations. I am particularly interested in the coevolutionary interactions of avian brood parasites and their hosts, and the role of phenotypic plasticity in facilitating host-specific adaptations. My research is predominantly field-based, involving observation and experiments of behaviour and physiology, but I supplement this with genetic and genomic data. I am driven by a passion for natural history, which was instilled during my childhood growing up on a farm in rural South Africa.
I completed my BSc at the University of Cape Town and did my BSc Honours project on thermoregulation of pygmy falcons in the Kalahari (supervised by Dr. Robert Thomson and Prof. Andrew McKechnie). During my undergraduate I also participated in projects on pollination biology of orchids, heterospecific eavesdropping in birds, the use of sociable weaver nests as a resource in the Kalahari, and the adaptive significance of the black skin of cuckoo finch chicks.
I joined the African Cuckoos team in 2019 as an MSc student, based at the University of Cape Town, and supervised by Prof. Claire Spottiswoode and Dr Gabriel Jamie. My dissertation focussed on the rare phenomenon of perfect mimicry and to explore this, I investigated the near-perfect mimicry by African cuckoos of fork-tailed drongo eggs.
In 2021 I shifted my focus from cuckoos to honeyguides. I am currently undertaking my PhD at the University of Cambridge, where I am investigating the mechanisms and ecological consequences of host specificity in honeyguides. Part of my PhD focusses on bringing together two distinct strings of greater honeyguide life history: their lives as brood parasites of bee-eaters, kingfishers, hoopoes and others; and their lives as mutualists with human honey-hunters. I am also interested in the genomic basis of egg mimicry and the mating systems of brood parasites.
Despite moving to the UK for my PhD, I remain unashamedly biased towards African birdlife.
Lund, J., Bolopo, D., Thomson, R. L., Elliott, D. L., Arnot, L. F., Kemp, R., Lowney, A. M., McKechnie, A. E. 2020. Winter thermoregulation in free-ranging pygmy falcons in the Kalahari Desert. Journal of Ornithology 161:549–555. Read online