Dr. Michael Anderson
Evolutionary ecology of avian brood parasitism
Position: Government of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow
Degrees and Institutions:
PhD (Ecology) Massey University, New Zealand, April 2010
MSc (Biology) University of Auckland, New Zealand, May 2003
BSc (Biology) University of Auckland, New Zealand, May 2001
My research focuses on avian brood parasitism systems. Brood parasites exploit other species, by tricking them into raising their offspring for them. In recent years, there have been considerable advances in the understanding of selective pressures imposed by brood parasites and their hosts on each other, but there remain many questions about the degree to which coevolutionary arms races escalate between host and parasite.
My PhD research focused on the coevolution of brood parasites and their hosts, using cuckoos in New Zealand and Europe. This research focused on adaptations at the nestling stage, examining the evolution of parent-offspring acoustic communication systems, cost involved with egg eviction behaviour and latitudinal gradients of brood parasitism.
During my postdoctoral fellowship I will be examining developmental stress in Brown-headed Cowbirds, in collaboration with Liana Zanette. Nutrition during the developmental period is of great importance for animals, not only for their immediate survival, but also for their long-term fitness. Not only is the Cowbird an obligate brood parasite, meaning their nestlings are always raised by another species, it is also an extreme generalist, exploiting over 220 different host species. As the host species will have adapted for the nutritional needs of their own offspring, cowbirds may regularly experience nutritional stress during development, the severity of which will depend on the host species that is being parasitized. My research will examine the effects of compensatory growth, a specific form of developmental stress, on cowbird physiology.
This page was last updated on
November 1, 2010
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