Langmore Group - Avian evolutionary and behavioural ecology

We study many aspects of evolutionary and behavioural ecology in birds, with particular emphasis on co-evolution between brood parasites and their hosts, signalling (songs, calls and displays), mimicry and crypsis, breeding systems, and evolutionary responses to climate change. Our main approach is to use field experiments and observations to test evolutionary theory.

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Selected publications

  • Langmore, NE, Hunt, S & Kilner, RM (2003) Escalation of a coevolutionary arms race through host rejection of brood parasitic young. Nature, 422, 157-160.
  • Russell AF, Langmore NE, Cockburn A, Astheimer LB, Kilner RM. (2007). Reduced egg investment can conceal helper effects in cooperatively breeding birds. Science 317: 941-944.
  • Langmore, N.E., Maurer, G., Adcock, G.J., Kilner, R.M. (2008). Socially acquired host-specific mimicry and the evolution of host races in Horsfield's bronze-cuckoo Chalcites basalisEvolution 62: 1689-1699.
  • Heinsohn, R., Langmore, N. E., Cockburn, A., Kokko, H. (2011) Adaptive sex ratio adjustments via sex-specific infanticide in a bird. Current Biology, 21: 1744-1747.
  • Kilner R. M. and Langmore, N. E. (2011) Cuckoos versus hosts in insects and birds: adaptations, counter-adaptations and outcomes. Biological Reviews, 86: 836-852
  • Langmore, N. E., Stevens, M., Maurer, G., Heinsohn, R., Hall, M. L., Peters, A., Kilner, R. M. (2011). Visual mimicry of host nestlings by cuckoos. Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences 278: 2455-2463
  • Feeney, W, Medina, I, Somveille, M, Heinsohn, R, Hall, ML, Mulder, RA, Stein, JA, Kilner, RM, Langmore, NE (2013) Brood parasitism and the evolution of cooperative breeding in birds. Science 342: 1506-1508
  • Odom, KJ, Hall, ML, Riebel, K, Omland, KE, Langmore, NE (2014) Female song is common and ancestral in songbirds. Nature Communications, Published online 2014/03/04/online, Vol 5 article 3379.
  • Heinsohn, R., Zdenek, C. N., Cunningham, R. B., Endler, J., Langmore, N. E. (2017) Tool-assisted drumming in a wild bird population. Science Advances, 3 (6): e1602399
  • Riebel, K, Odom, KJ, Langmore, NE, Hall, ML. (2019) New insights from female bird song: towards an integrated approach to studying male and female communication roles. Biology Letters, 20190059
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All publications

E&E PhD Exit Seminar: An imposter in the nest: rejection of cuckoo chicks by a host using true recognition

Event | Fri 9 August 2019

Interactions between avian brood parasites and their hosts are one of the most suitable model systems for studying coevolution.

Female superb fairy-wren. Photo Andrew Haysom

Wait - We're sexist towards birds now?

Story | Tuesday 1 October 2019
Five years ago, an ANU biologist proved that most female songbirds sing, but it’s a finding that many people are struggling to accept.

Study reveals how a mother always knows her chicks

Story | Thursday 7 June 2018
A study led by ANU has discovered how a mother knows her chicks and can spot an imposter in her nest, even if it looks almost identical to her own chicks.

ARC grant success

Story | Friday 10 November 2017
The Australian National University (ANU) has won $24 million in Australian Research Council (ARC) funding for 58 research projects across the University. 

Fairy wrens vary egg size to increase survival rates

Story | Thursday 1 December 2016
The female Superb Fairy-Wren has the ability to change the size of the eggs it lays, a biological feat which could buffer against the effects of climate change.

Cotton wool could save the endangered forty-spotted pardalote

Story | Tuesday 1 September 2015
Amanda Edworthy is trialling a novel method of controlling the fly larvae in a bid to save the extremely rare 40-spotted pardalote..

A cuckoo finch in sheep's clothing

Story | Thursday 11 June 2015

ARC Discovery projects and DECRA fellowships

Story | Monday 17 November 2014

Naomi Langmore

Story | Monday 8 September 2014
Group research focus

Cuckoos trick other cuckoos in the race to own the nest

Story | Wednesday 13 August 2014
Australian native cuckoos are engaged in an arms race, competing with each other to take over other species’ nests.

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