Jess Lund

Biography & Research

Jess Lund

Jess grew up on a farm in Limpopo Province, northern South Africa, and spent her childhood surrounded by (and infatuated with) birds. At a young age, she decided that a career in ornithology was her calling. She completed her BSc at UCT majoring in Applied Statistics and Ecology & Evolution in 2017 and went on to do her Honours in 2018. Her Honours project (supervised by Dr. Robert Thomson and Prof. Andrew McKechnie) aimed to determine whether the arid-adapted pygmy falcon goes into a state of hypothermic torpor on winter nights in the Kalahari. Jess is broadly interested in the evolution and ecology of birds but is particularly fascinated by coevolution and behavioural ecology.

Her MSc dissertation at the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology will look at the intriguing interactions between the African cuckoo (Cuculus gularis) and its host, the fork-tailed drongo (Dicrurus adsimilis), in the miombo woodlands of southern Zambia. She will use molecular techniques, field experiments and novel methods of image analysis to study the coevolutionary consequences of host signatures in this poorly-studied arms race. This research is supervised by Prof. Claire Spottiswoode and co-supervised by Dr Gabriel Jamie. Jess has also assisted with other projects on sociable weaver colonies in the Kalahari and on avian brood parasitism in Zambia.


New paper on host-specific mimicry by indigobird and whydah chicks

In a new paper published in Evolution, Dr Gabriel Jamie along with Silky Hamama, Collins Moya and Prof. Claire Spottiswoode from the African Cuckoos team and collaborators from University of Puerto Rico (Steven Van Belleghem), Princeton University (Dr Cassie Stoddard and Dr Ben Hogan) and University of Cambridge (Professor Rebecca Kilner) provide evidence of host-specific mimicry in the indigobirds and whydahs of Africa. Building on the pioneering work of Robert Payne and Jürgen Nicolai, they provide quantitative evidence that nestling Vidua finches mimic the patterns, colours and begging calls of their host’s nestling, and qualitative evidence of mimicry of host movements.

Pick of the month in Trends in Ecology and Evolution

Dr Gabriel Jamie and Dr Joana Meier’s paper “The Persistence of Polymorphisms across Species Radiations” has been selected by Trends in Ecology and Evolution as the journal Editor’s pick of the month. Read the full paper here:

Launching for all bird enthusiasts in Africa! is a citizen science project for which we welcome all records of Greater Honeyguides anywhere in Africa. Visit our project site in English, en français & em Português!
Please also follow the Honeyguide Research Project on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram @honeyguiding.