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.

News

Dr Gabriel Jamie gives a talk on mimicry in parasitic finches at the African BirdFair

Dr Gabriel Jamie gave a talk on mimicry in the parasitic finches of Africa at Birdlife South Africa’s Virtual African Birdfair. Please also see Dr Jessica van der Wal’s talk on our sister research project on honeyguide-human mutualism (more information at www.AfricanHoneyguides.com) and many other great research talks by our colleagues at the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology. Also visit the amazing line-up of other talks at the Virtual African BirdFair, including a talk on bird art by the brilliant Faansie Peacock who has generously allowed us to use his illustrations in several of our scientific publications. Thank you BirdLife South Africa!

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Mairenn Attwood submits her MPhil thesis

Congratulations to Mairenn Attwood for successfully submitting her MPhil thesis at the University of Cambridge, entitled ‘Angry birds: does it pay a cuckoo to parasitise a highly aggressive host?’. In it, Mairenn asks whether high levels of aggression by fork-tailed drongos affect hawk mimicry by the African cuckoo, and whether it pays cuckoos to specialise on such aggressive hosts. An amazing feat of field experimental work in Zambia (in collaboration with Jess Lund), analysis and writing in just one year of research – well done Mairenn!

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Front cover of Trends in Ecology and Evolution

Dr Gabriel Jamie and Dr Joana Meier’s paper on the persistence of polymorphisms across species radiations is on the front cover of the September issue of Trends in Ecology and Evolution. The cover image provides a specific example of the trans-species polymorphisms that the paper explores. Here, a polymorphism in shell chirality that recurs across multiple species of Amphidromus snails . Photos by Menno & Jan Schilthuizen. You can read the full article here: https://tinyurl.com/ycgdw4lu

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