2016 has gotten off to a great start for the Hot Birds Team, with several new students joining the programme at UCT and at UP, and a fantastic Hot Birds presence at the LAB -Learn About Birds conference organised by BirdLife South Africa in conjunction with the Percy FitzPatrick Institute, hosted at Skukuza Camp in the Kruger National Park.
We welcome Mpho Malematja and Ryno Kemp who have joined the Honours programme at UP and will be studying thermal physiology in mousebirds and ground woodpeckers, respectively, in Andrew McKechnie's lab.
We are also very excited to welcome a new PhD student to the UCT team - Amanda Bourne was the successful applicant for the PhD scholarship we advertised in late 2015. She will be working on whether cooperative behaviour can buffer costs of heat stress in social birds, using the Southern Pied Babbler as a model species. Amanda will be working in collaboration with Susie Cunningham and Claire Spottiswoode at the Fitz, and Mandy Ridley at UWA. Amanda has a strong background in climate change research from her previous work at Conservation South Africa. Read more about Amanda here.
LAB in Skukuza:
The Hot Birds team was well represented at this year's LAB conference in Skukuza, with fully 8 oral presentations (~17% of the programme!) and 2 posters presented by our group. Our new logo made its debut at this conference and looked great on all the posters and talks.
Hot Birds attendees at the conference included Andrew McKechnie, Nick Pattinson, Ryan O'Connor, Michelle Thompson, Tanja van de Ven, Susie Cunningham, Jerry Molepo, Ben Smit, Mpho Malematja, Krista Oswald, Margaux Rat and Ryno Kemp. We all enjoyed spending time together, bouncing ideas around, drinking a few beers and seeing the Big Five in their natural habitat!
Congratulations to Penny Pistorius
We have just learned that Penny Pistorius has earned a Distinction grade for her MSc thesis on the relationships between temperature and flight initiation distances in Kalahari birds. Well done Penny!!
Penny has minimal changes to make to her thesis, after which we expect her to graduate with Distinction in June. We are all extremely proud of her.