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Department of Zoology



I graduated in Natural Sciences in 2019, having worked on various projects throughout my undergraduate degree. These included investigating the impact of parasitic plants on invasive Oxalis, the function of buccal oscillations in túngara frogs, ecological factors affecting beadlet anenome behaviour, and interactions between pollen beetles/rock roses. I was also an intern with the Insect Ecology group in Cambridge, examining invertebrate diversity across ancient and recently planted woodland. For my final year project, I investigated behavioural responses to kleptoparasitism risk in stickleback fish, supervised by Professor Nick Davies. Across these diverse taxa, interactions between individuals and species emerged as a central research interest. I also enjoy scientific communication, engaging in outreach and co-directing content at ClimateScience (a charity providing education about the solutions to climate change).


My research explores the co-evolutionary arms race between hosts and brood parasites in Zambia, using African cuckoos (Cuculus gularis) and their fork-tailed drongo hosts (Dicrurus adsimilis) as a model system. My MPhil focussed on investigating the trade-offs involved when parasites target aggressive hosts. I also explored evidence for edge effects on these species at the study site, which is a matrix of farmland and miombo woodland.

For my PhD project I am working with the same system, broadening to understand drongos’ contradictory roles as both manipulators and manipulated. This project proposes to tackle questions of recognition, cognition and evolutionary benefit for drongos, situating their arms race within a wider ecological context.


Key publications: 

Attwood MC, Lund J, Nwaogu CJ, Moya C, Spottiswoode CN. 2023 Aggressive hosts are undeterred by a cuckoo’s hawk mimicry, but probably make good foster parents. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 290. (doi:10.1098/RSPB.2022.1506)

Other publications: 

Wal JEM van der, Spottiswoode CN, Uomini NT, Cantor M, Daura-Jorge FG, Afan AI, Attwood MC et al. 2022 Safeguarding human–wildlife cooperation. Conservation Letters e12886. (doi:10.1111/CONL.12886)

Cram DL, Wal JEM van der, Uomini N, Cantor M, Afan AI, Attwood MC et al. 2022 The ecology and evolution of human-wildlife cooperation. People and Nature 4, 841–855. (doi:10.1002/PAN3.10369)