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

Outreach for British Science Week at local Cambridgeshire school

During this year’s British Science Week, we’ve been engaging with local school children in Cambridgeshire. Mairenn Attwood led interactive talks at the Thomas Clarkson Academy in Wisbech,  a school partnered with ‘Teach First’ (a charity aimed at reducing educational inequality).

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New scientific paper on the “Limits to host colonization and speciation” published

Our paper “Limits to host colonization and speciation in a radiation of parasitic finches” has just been published in the journal Behavioral Ecology. In this study, led by Dr Gabriel Jamie, we explored the factors which limited the colonisation of new hosts by brood-parasitic Vidua finches. Speciation in these birds is closely connected with the colonisation of new hosts. Therefore, if we can understand what limits this process, we can understand what has limited the diversification of this radiation.

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Parasitic finches featured in new documentary “Attenborough’s Life in Colour” on BBC One

The amazing mimicry shown by nestling Pin-tailed Whydahs of their Common Waxbill hosts is showcased in David Attenborough’s Life in Colour the latest natural history documentary on BBC One. Filming of this sequence by Nick Green and Max Hug Williams of Humble Bee Films took place at our field site in Choma, Zambia, with Dr Gabriel Jamie acting as scientific consultant and contributing sound recordings.

You can watch the sequence in Episode 2: “Hiding in Colour” on BBC iPlayer.

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