Biography & Research
I am a PhD student at the University of Cambridge (BA Natural Sciences), studying the evolution and behavioural ecology of brood parasite – host interactions, with fieldwork in Zambia. I graduated from Cambridge in June 2017 and following have studied avian brood parasitism in South Africa and Zambia and interactions between fish species in Trinidadian streams.
Some of my research projects have included studying interactions between pollinators (Heliconius butterflies) and tropical vines (Psiguria), with Prof. Chris Jiggins in Panama, and theoretical work on the interaction between mating systems (specifically self-incompatibility in plants) and genetic barriers with Prof. Nick Barton. I also conducted a meta-analysis on cooperatively breeding vertebrates and maternal effects as one of my Bachelor projects, which has been published in the journal PeerJ.
I am primarily interested in species interactions and behavioural ecology, particularly the consequences of antagonistic arms races on adaptations and animal signals – these interests have been largely inspired by attending seminars and having conversations with members of the Behavioural Ecology Group at Cambridge. Prof. Nick Davies and Prof. Claire Spottiswoode have particularly inspired me and enhanced my interest in both scientific questions and natural history. In particular I have been fascinated by brood parasitism due to the wonderful adaptations, and some seemingly inexplicable maladaptations, that are generated by host-parasite coevolution.
In Zambia I am studying the interactions between cuckoo finches Anomalospiza imberbis and their hosts (family Cisticolidae). I am attempting to understand the mechanisms and adaptive decision-making involved in egg rejection by hosts, as well as why differences exist between some host and parasite eggs. I am collaborating with Prof. L Mahadevan (Harvard) and Dr. Cassie Stoddard (Princeton) to use top-down and bottom-up approaches in studying the evolution of egg signatures and forgeries, and the generation of adaptive repeated randomness. I also aim to understand the effects of coevolutionary arms races, and why outcomes of similar arms races may differ.
Having always been interested in nature, as well as being a keen bird- and wildlife-watcher, I am delighted to be able to pursue these scientific questions in the setting of Zambia’s miombo woodland. A large part of my passion for brood parasitism, ornithology and animal behaviour is inspired by my love of natural history.
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.