Dra. Ma. Cecilia de Mársico

Head Teaching Assistant EGE, FCEN-UBA | Researcher CONICET | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

My research mainly focuses in the study of host-parasite coevolution using as model species a host-specialist brood parasite, the screaming cowbird (Molothrus rufoaxillaris), and its primary host, the grayish baywing (Agelaioides badius). In particular, I am interested in investigating reciprocal adaptations in these species such as host’s ability to discriminate against juveniles unlike their own and the evolution of visual and vocal mimicry of host juveniles by screaming cowbirds. My aim is to contribute to a better understanding about how coevolutionary interactions shape behavioral, morphological and life-history traits of brood parasites and their hosts. I am also interested in exploring the relationship between coevolution and host use strategies through examining the factors that favor specialization or constrain the colonization of new host species by parasitic birds. More recently, my research projects have expanded to the study of cooperative breeding in A. badius. Within this line of research, I am especially interested in understanding the evolution of complex social systems and how the trade-offs between cooperation and conflict over parental care shape reproductive investment strategies of breeders and helpers. Following this general goal, our work is oriented to answer questions about the formation and social organization of cooperative groups, how breeders and helpers adjust their contribution in response to each other’s effort, the benefits of helping to both parties and possible interactions between cooperative breeding and brood parasitism.