Tanmay Dixit

Biography & Research

Tanmay Toucan

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.

Publications

News

Symposium on moult in tropical birds at International Ornithological Congress

Dr Gabriel Jamie and Dr Chima Nwaogu organised a symposium on “The ecology and evolution of moult in tropical birds” as part of the International Ornithological Congress. The symposium included a Round Table discussion as well as invited talks from a range of speakers including Dr Yahkat Barshep (A. P. Leventis Ornithological Research Institute, Nigeria), Dr Barbara Helm (Swiss Ornithological Research Institute, Switzerland), Dr Oluwadunsin Adekola (FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town, South Africa & Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria) and Dr Yosef Kiat (University of Haifa, Israel).

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Dr Gabriel Jamie speaks at European Society for Evolutionary Biology conference

Dr Gabriel Jamie was an invited speaker at the European Society for Evolutionary Biology conference in Prague, Czech Republic, as part of the symposium on “Repeated and Parallel Evolution in Adaptive Radiations. Gabriel spoke on “The persistence of polymorphisms across species radiations” building on work conducted together with Dr Joana Meier. To learn more about this research you can read their Trends in Ecology and Evolution paper here.

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Evolutionary Biology Crash Course

Tanmay Dixit was a member of a team organising and lecturing in the inaugural Evolutionary Biology Crash Course. This course, aimed at undergraduate or early-postgraduate students, teaches evolutionary principles to students who have had limited opportunities to be exposed to evolutionary ideas. The course is funded by the Equal Opportunities Initiative Fund of the European Society of Evolutionary Biology (ESEB). Tanmay presented lectures on behavioural ecology and evolution, focussing on kin selection, coevolution, and parasitism. Over 700 students, with the vast majority from the global South, attended the course, which was a resounding success!

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