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 is mainly focused on the study of brood parasitism in birds. In particular, I am interested in the coevolutionary processes that occur between parasites and hosts, the adaptations resulting from these processes, and the relationship between coevolution and host-use specialization. My study model is the system formed by the screaming cowbird (Molothrus rufoaxillaris), and its primary host, the Grayish baywing (Agelaioides badius). TThe most remarkable feature of this system is that the juveniles of both species are nearly indistinguishable from each other in plumage color and vocalizations. My current work seeks to understand the mechanisms involved in the mimicry of host juveniles by the screaming cowbird and in the ability of baywings to discriminate against non-mimetic juveniles. In addition, I am interested in studying the strategies used by screaming cowbird females to locate and parasitize host nests, in relation to host defenses and the use of social information. More recently my research has expanded to the study of cooperative breeding in the baywing. Cooperative breeding is a reproductive system in which individuals other than the parents (helpers) contribute to the care of the young. Within this line of research, I seek to understand how the benefits of helping and the conflicts of interest within social groups determine how much, how and with whom to cooperate.