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. His work aims to understand how the mechanisms underpinning perception in hosts influences their egg rejection behaviour, the evolution of their egg patterns, and the evolution of their antagonists.  He is collaborating with mathematicians and computer scientists such as Prof. L Mahadevan (Harvard) and Dr. Christopher Town (Cambridge) to use top-down and bottom-up approaches in studying the evolution of egg signatures and forgeries. In particular, he has studied the perception and evolution of egg pattern complexity, the optimality of egg pattern traits, and imperfect mimicry. 

Tanmay’s focus on mechanisms and their effects on evolution requires cross-disciplinary approaches to studying both adaptation and maladaptation, and he particularly enjoys the collaborations 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.



Jess Lund awarded an R. C. Lewontin Grant from the Society for the Study of Evolution

The Society for the Study of Evolution has awarded Jess Lund an R. C. Lewontin Graduate Research Excellence Grant, which will enable her to expand her investigations into the fascinating lives of honeyguides. This grant is awarded to students early in their PhD programmes to assist them in enhancing the scope of their research. Thank you to the SSE for their generous support of our work!

read more

New paper on eggshell surface properties

Stephanie McClelland’s paper entitled “Eggshell composition and surface properties of avian brood-parasitic species compared with non-parasitic species” has been published in the journal Royal Society Open Science. This study measured structural properties of the eggshells of brood parasites and their hosts around the world. The study found that…

read more