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Department of Zoology



I am a PhD student currently investigating the mechanisms and ecological consequences of host specificity in honeyguides. Part of my PhD focusses on bringing together two distinct strings of greater honeyguide life history: their lives as brood parasites of bee-eaters, kingfishers, hoopoes and others; and their lives as mutualists with human honey-hunters (for more information see and

I completed my BSc at the University of Cape Town and did my BSc Honours project on the thermoregulation of pygmy falcons in the Kalahari. I also participated in projects on pollination biology of orchids, heterospecific eavesdropping in birds, the use of sociable weaver nests as a resource in the Kalahari, and the adaptive significance of the black skin of cuckoo finch chicks. I joined Claire Spottiswoode’s research group in 2019 as an MSc student, based at the University of Cape Town, where I investigated the near-perfect mimicry by African cuckoos of fork-tailed drongo eggs.


My research focuses on the ways in which species interact, and the consequences of these interactions on the evolutionary trajectories of populations. I am particularly interested in the coevolutionary interactions of avian brood parasites and their hosts, and the role of phenotypic plasticity in facilitating host-specific adaptations. My research is predominantly field-based, involving observation and experiments of behaviour and physiology, but I supplement this with genetic and genomic data.


Key publications: 
PhD Student
Jess Lund with greater honeyguide