Students & Associates
Martim has been a
keen birder ever since he can remember and a ringer since his
early teens. He completed his Biology degree at the University
of Lisbon, working on the wintering ecology of common cranes (Grus
grus) for his final year project. During 1996-97 he was a
volunteer for a UNDP project on the island of São Tomé and
assisted with the implementation of rural associations and this
triggered a long-lasting interest in the birds of the Gulf of
Guinea. That same year, Martim participated in a study of the
seabird communities of the islands with Rita Covas and Luis
Monteiro. He also worked closely with official entities and NGOs
linked to the environment, which culminated in a weeklong forum
and book on ‘development and environment on São Tomé and
In 1998, Martim
enrolled for the Conservation Biology MSc at the FitzPatrick
Institute and worked on the genetic differentiation of the grey
parrot (Psittacus erithacus) population from Príncipe
Island, under the supervision of Peter Ryan and Colleen O’Ryan
(Department of Molecular Biology, UCT). This was followed with a
PhD on bird speciation in the Gulf of Guinea at the University
of Edinburgh under the supervision of Peter Jones.
After a two-year
post-doc at the CEFE-CNRS (Montpellier, France) looking at the
relationship between host genetic diversity, parasite load and
immune response, Martim returned to the Percy FitzPatrick as a
CoE post-doctoral research fellow. Here he will be working on
two projects: i) the genomics of two adaptive bird radiations:
the Gulf of Guinea seedeaters and the Tristan buntings (with
Peter Ryan and Paulette Bloomer); and ii) speciation processes
in the highland forests of Africa, focusing on the afromontane
centres that have been little or not studied at all: Angola,
Mozambique, Cameroon/Nigeria (with Peter Ryan).
Martim is broadly interested in identifying the factors that
drive population divergence, and in establishing the link
between micro- and macroevolution, i.e., between adaptation and
speciation. To address this problem, he uses a combination
of ecological, morphological, behavioural and molecular data
together with field experiments. Martim has pursued these
interests by focusing on the study of ecology and evolution in
island systems. Islands offer peculiar situations that can be
used fruitfully to understand the role of genetic variation and
gene flow (or the lack of it) in adaptation and speciation.
Additionally, he recently became interested in the role of
parasites in evolution. All of the above research lines feed
into Martim’s long-standing and active interest in conservation
by allowing him to investigate the potential of organisms to
adapt to human-altered environments.
Systematics & Biogeography
Recent peer-reviewed publications
Mills, M.S.L., Melo, M. & Vaz, A. (2013). The Namba mountains: new hope for
Afromontaine forest birds in Angola. Bird Conservation International
Dallimer, M., Parnell, M., Bicknell, J.E. & Melo, M.
(2012). The importance of
novel and agricultural habitats for the avifauna of an oceanic island.
Journal for Nature Conservation 20:191-199.
Melo M., Bowie R. C. K., Voelker
G., Dallimer, M., Collar, N. J. & Jones, P. J. (2011). Multiple lines of
evidence support the recognition of a very rare bird species: the Principe
thrush. Journal of Zoology 282:120-129.
Melo, M., Warren, B.H. & Jones, P.J. (2011). Rapid parallel evolution of
aberrant traits in the diversification of the Gulf of Guinea white-eyes (Aves, Zosteropidae). Molecular Ecology 20:4953-4967.
Mills, M.S.L., Olmos, F., Melo, M. & Dean, W.R.J. (2011). Mount Moco: its
importance to the conservation of Swierstra’s Francolin Pternistis
swierstrai and the Afromontane avifauna of Angola. Bird Conservation
Mills, M.S.L., Melo, M. & Vaz, A. (2011). Black-tailed Cisticola Cisticola
melanurus in eastern Angola: behavioural notes and the first photographs
and sound-recordings. Bulletin of the African Bird Club 18:193-198.
Mills, M.S.L., Melo, M., Borrow, N. & Vaz Pinto, P. (2011). The endangered
Braun’s Bushshrike Laniarius brauni: a summary. Bulletin of the
African Bird Club 18:193-198.
Dallimer, M. & Melo, M. (2010).
Rapid decline of the endemic giant land snail Archachatina
bicarinata on the island of Príncipe, Gulf of Guinea.
Dallimer, M., Melo, M., Collar,
N.J. & Jones, P.J. (2010). The Príncipe Thrush Turdus
xanthorhynchus: a newly split, ‘Critically Endangered’,
forest flagship species. Bird Conservation International
Melo, M., Bowie, R.C.K. , Voelker,
G. , Dallimer, M., Collar, N.J. & Jones, P.J. (2010). Multiple
lines of evidence support the recognition of a very rare bird
species: the Príncipe thrush. Journal of Zoology
Copyright: Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology 2013
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