Dr Tanmay Dixit

Biography & Research

Tanmay Dixit and a cuckoo finch chick

Tanmay’s research addresses how mechanisms influence the coevolution of brood parasites and their hosts. 

His passion for brood parasitism, ornithology, and animal behaviour was inspired by his love of natural history. This fascination with natural history, alongside his interest in how species interact in life’s complex web led to him studying Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge. During and after Tanmay’s undergraduate degree, he has conducted projects across the world, including in the neotropics (Panama and Trinidad), and in Africa. It was in Africa that he joined the African cuckoos team in 2017. 

Tanmay began his PhD research in October 2018, studying the antagonistic interactions between cuckoo finches Anomalospiza imberbis and their hosts (family Cisticolidae) in Zambia. He collaborated with mathematicians and computer scientists such as Prof. L Mahadevan (Harvard) and Dr. Christopher Town (Cambridge) to use top-down and bottom-up approaches to study the evolution of egg signatures and forgeries. In particular, he studied the evolution of egg pattern complexity, the optimality of egg pattern traits, and imperfect mimicry. His PhD was awarded in 2023. 

In 2023, he began a Junior Research Fellowship at Jesus College, Cambridge. He continues to study cuckoo finches and their hosts, now focussing on mechanisms underpinning coevolution. He is particularly interested in whether perception of egg colours and patterns is continuous or categorical, and how cuckoo finches respond to host perceptual capabilities and phenotypic distributions. He is also a Research Associate at the Fitzpatrick Institute, University of Cape Town.

Tanmay’s focus on mechanisms and their effects on evolution requires cross-disciplinary approaches to studying both adaptation and maladaptation, and he particularly enjoys collaborating with researchers across a range of fields. Nevertheless, he is particularly delighted to be able to pursue scientific questions in the beautiful setting of Zambia’s miombo woodland.




Tanmay Dixit awarded PhD and starting Junior Research Fellowship

Tanmay’s PhD, entitled “Signatures and forgeries: optimality in a coevolutionary arms race” was awarded with no corrections. Huge thanks to collaborators and colleagues who were instrumental to this work, and to examiners James Herbert-Read and Graeme Ruxton. Tanmay will remain on the team and continue conducting fieldwork in Choma as part of the Junior Research fellowship that he is starting at Jesus College, Cambridge.

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