Biography & Research
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.
- Dixit, T., Choi, G.P.T., al-Mosleh, S., Lund, J., Troscianko, J., Moya, C., Mahadevan, L. and Spottiswoode, C.N., 2023. Combined measures of mimetic fidelity explain imperfect mimicry in a brood parasite–host system. Biology Letters, 19(2), 20220538.
Dixit, T., Apostol, A., Chen, K. C., Fulford, A., Town, C. P., & Spottiswoode, C. N. (2022). Visual complexity of egg patterns predicts egg rejection according to Weber’s Law. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 289. 20220710.
- Cram, D.L., van der Wal, J.E.M., Uomini, N.T., Cantor, M., Afan, A.I., Attwood, M.C., Amphaeris, J., Balasani, F., Blair, C.J., Bronstein, J.L., Buanachique, I.O., Cuthill, R.R.T., Das, J., Daura-Jorge, F.G., Deb, A., Dixit, T., Dlamini, G.S., Dounias, E., Gedi, I.I., Gruber, M., Hoffman, L.S., Holzlehner, T., Isack, H.A., Laltaika, A.E., Lloyd-Jones, D.J., Lund, J., Machado, A.M.S., Mahadevan, L., Moreno, I.B., Nwaogu, C.J., Pereira, V.L., Pierotti, R., Rucunua, S.A., dos Santos, W.F., Serpa, N., Smith, B.D., Sridhar, H., Tolkova, I., Tun, T., Valle-Pereira, J.V.S., Wood, B.M., Wrangham, R.W. & Spottiswoode, C.N. 2022 The ecology and evolution of human-wildlife cooperation. People and Nature DOI: 10.1002/pan3.10369
van der Wal, J.E.M., Spottiswoode, C.N., Uomini, N.T., Cantor, M., Daura-Jorge, F.G., Afan, A.I., Attwood, M.C., Amphaeris, J., Balasani, F., Begg, C.M., Blair, C.J., Bronstein, J.L., Buanachique, I.O., Cuthill, R.R.T., Das, J., Deb, A., Dixit, T., Dlamini, G.S., Dounias, E., Gedi, I.I., Gruber, M., Hoffman, L.S., Holzlehner, T., Isack, H.A., Laltaika, A.E., Lloyd-Jones, D.J., Lund, J., Machado, A.M.S., Mahadevan, L., Moreno, I.B., Nwaogu, C.J., Pereira, V.L., Pierotti, R., Rucunua, S.A., dos Santos, W.F., Serpa, N., Smith, B.D., Tolkova, I., Tun, T., Valle-Pereira, J.V.S., Wood, B.M., Wrangham, R.W. & Cram, D.L. 2022 Safeguarding human-wildlife cooperation. Conservation Letters e12886
- McClelland, S. C., Reynolds, M., Cordall, M., Hauber, M. E., Goymann, W., McClean, L. A., Hamama, S., Lund, J., Dixit, T., Louder, M. I. M., Safari, I., Honza, M., Spottiswoode, C. N., Portugal, S. J. 2021. Embryo movement is more frequent in avian brood parasites than birds with parental reproductive strategies. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 288:20211137.
- Dixit, T., Caves, E.M., Spottiswoode, C.N. & Horrocks, N.P.C. (2021) Why and how to apply Weber’s Law to coevolution and mimicry. Evolution 75: 1906-1919.
- Caves, E.M., Dixit, T., Colebrook-Robjent, J.F.R., Hamusikili, L., Stevens, M., Thorogood, R. & Spottiswoode, C.N. (2021) Hosts elevate either within-clutch consistency or between-clutch distinctiveness of egg phenotypes in defence against brood parasites. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 288: 20210326.
- Dixit, T.*, Riederer, J.M.*, Quek, S., Belford, K., Tavares de Wand, T., Sicat, R. & Jiggins, C.D. (2020) Plasticity in flower size as an adaptation to variation in pollinator specificity. Ecological Entomology 45: 1367-1372.
- Sorensen, M.C., Dixit, T., Newton, J., Kardynal, K., Hobson, K., Bensch, S., Jenni-Eiereman, S. & Spottiswoode, C.N. (2019) Migration distance does not predict blood parasitism in a Palearctic-African migratory bird. Ecology and Evolution 9: 8294-8304.
- Pickup, M., Brandvain, Y., Fraïsse, C., Yakimowski, S., Barton, N.H., Dixit, T., Lexer, C., Cereghetti, E. & Field, D.L. (2019) Mating system variation in hybrid zones: facilitation, barriers and asymmetries to gene flow. New Phytologist 224: 1035-1047.
- Dixit, T., English, S. & Lukas, D. (2017), The relationship between egg size and helper number in cooperative breeders: a meta-analysis across species. PeerJ 5: e4028.