Ryan Olinger

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Ryan has worked in the field of wildlife biology for over five years, on three continents, with mammals, birds, and reptiles. As an undergraduate, Ryan volunteered with every wildlife agency that he could. The countless volunteer hours gave him experience trapping mammals, performing point counts, handling venomous snakes, and tracking large carnivores. These skills allowed Ryan to find work with state agencies on reestablishing endangered black-footed ferrets and performing avian surveys in a diverse North American migratory flyway. After graduating from the University of Arizona with a degree in Wildlife Conservation and Management, Ryan set out to understand the effects of wildfires and logging on mammals in the beautiful Yosemite National Park. His days off were spent birding throughout the west coast and no doubt inspired his move to New Zealand to protect native and endemic species. Spending eight months on the South Island of NZ, trapping invasive species, Ryan knew he wanted to continue his work with birds and found himself in the Kalahari Desert of South Africa focusing on the behavioural ecology of fork-tailed drongos. After nearly three years on the road, Ryan became completely captivated by the wild places of Africa. Whenever free time allows, Ryan loves trail running, hiking, and is always down for a road trip.

For his MSc at UCT, Ryan is working on Fork-tailed Drongos and the consequences of behavioural trade-offs they make to beat the heat.

Contact

Ryan Olinger
FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology
University of Cape Town
Rondebosch 7701
South Africa

Email: rolinger9@gmail.com

 

Nicholas Pattinson

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Contact

Nicholas B. Pattinson
Department of Zoology
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
Port Elizabeth, 6031
South Africa

Email: nickpaddie@gmail.com

I come from a farm outside Harrismith in the Free State, and went to school in Kwa-Zulu Natal. I spent most of my time fly-fishing and birding, and decided to turn my passions into a career, heading to the University of Pretoria to study a BSc. Zoology. My research career kicked off when I was able to secure an amazing opportunity to acquire my zoology honours under the supervision of Prof. Andrew McKechnie and Dr. Susan Cunningham, which saw me conduct field work in both the Kalahari Desert in South Africa and the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, USA. After graduating I moved to Port Elizabeth, to take on a zoology masters supervised by Dr. Ben Smit. My research is focused on thermal ecology of birds in hot environments, particularly pertaining to the potential effects of climate change. My masters looks specifically at the physiology and behaviour of the rufous-eared warbler (Malcorus pectoralis) in the Karoo semi-desert, in the hope that insights into how a small bird deals with high temperatures might help us understand how vulnerable species are to predicted climate change, and give us ideas for what we can do about it.

 

Jerry Molepo

Jerry grew up in the rural villages outside Polokwane, and never thought he would end up studying birds. His first degree was in botany and zoology at University of Venda. While studying, he became a research assistant on a long term project that monitored the effects of climate change on biota and processes influencing ecosystem functioning and species diversity patterns. He then developed an interest in climate change studies, but wanted to work on something different and not invertebrates. He moved to University of Limpopo where he did his BSc (Hons) with Dr. Tshifhiwa Mandiwana-Neudani and Prof. Rauri Bowie. His project investigated morphometrics and plumage variation in the South African Fiscal flycatcher Sigelus silens Shaw 1809. Finally he met avian physiologist Dr. Ben Smit and is currently working with him, Dr. Susie Cunningham and Dr. Alan Lee.

Research interests

Jerry's interests focus on behaviour and thermal physiology in birds. He is interesting in seeing how they meet their daily energy requirements while having to deal with high temperatures. He is using Cape Sugarbird as a model species for his research. 

Contact

Jerry Molepo
Department of Zoology
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
Port Elizabeth, 6031
South Africa

Email: pakunaj@gmail.com; s214389707@live.nmmu.ac.za 

 

Krista Oswald

Krista says:

“Even before I’d ever watched Star Trek, I grew up wanting to be a command-shirt-gold wearing member of Star Fleet, or whichever intergalactic peacekeeping operation happened to be en vogue.  To this end, I initially procured a BA in Chinese history, assuming they would be the forefront of the global economy in the future.  However, after extensive traveling/procrastinating I soon realised that despite my love of being in charge I was more suited to the science-shirt-blue, and so returned to university, this time acquiring an Biology Honours from Dalhousie University in Canada.  Although I particularly enjoyed studying bird behaviour, I found that there was in fact no biological discipline I didn’t enjoy, and so was thrilled to find a project that allows me to study the effects of climate change from as many different angles as possible.  Currently, I am collecting data for an MSc that will compare seasonal physiology in the Cape rockjumper, a known global outlier for its low heat tolerance.  This allows me to spend many weeks of the year in the Kouga Mountains at Blue Hill Nature Reserve, where the merciless sun beats down on rockjumper and me alike, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  At the same time, I have also been collecting data for an intended PhD that will allow me to examine the effects climate has had, and perhaps will have, on rockjumpers in the future.”

Contact

Krista Oswald
Department of Zoology
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
Port Elizabeth, 6031
South Africa

Email: knoswald@gmail.com