Coevolution as an engine of diversity: parasitism and mutualism in African birds

Dr Claire Spottiswoode from the Fitzpatrick Institute will present the Department of Biological Sciences seminar with a talk entitled, "Coevolution as an engine of diversity: parasitism and mutualism in African birds"

This talk will explore how interactions between species can generate both genetic and cultural diversity within and between populations. First, I will focus on the coevolutionary arms races that arise between brood-parasitic birds and their hosts they exploit to raise their young, by way of examples from the several independently-evolved systems we study in the field in Zambia: cuckoos, honeyguides, and parasitic finches. In particular, I’ll ask how coevolution can escalate to shape sophisticated signals of identity, and how coevolution can shape remarkably ancient genetic specialisation within a single species. Second, I will focus on the mutually beneficial interactions between honeyguides and the human honey-hunters whom they guide to bees’ nests, and ask whether this reciprocal exchange may shape cultural diversity between populations.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017 - 13:00
Contact Information: 

Niven Library, John Day Building, Upper Campus, UCT